With Diwali around the corner, several housing societies and gated communities in the city have decided to keep a check on bursting firecrackers. They said that such celebrations would turn the air into a toxic haze and may lead to the further spread of COVID-19. The resulting pollution would inconvenience patients who are undergoing treatment at home.
Dinesh Saxena, resident and secretary of plush Ivory Heights society in Goregaon, informed that 32 patients are under home quarantine in his society. They fear that the heightened pollution levels post Diwali could deteriorate their health further. "Most of the patients undergoing treatment are senior citizens. Bursting firecrackers inside the society premises may turn the air toxic. This is why we have decided to ban firecrackers within the society premises this year,” Saxena told the Free Press Journal.
Dhaval Shah, director of Lokhandwala Oshiwara Citizens Association (LOCA), an Andheri-based citizen's group, stated that most of the societies in the locality will be celebrating Diwali without bursting firecrackers that emit smoke. "Most of us won't be bursting the type of crackers that emit toxic smoke. We have been running campaigns on WhatsApp and hope people will follow the same," Shah said. Nearly 500 societies are a part of LOCA. As many as one-sixth of the active COVID-19 patients in Andheri reside in these buildings. Similarly, Ayesha Patil, a resident and office bearer of a Grant Road society, said that they have sent notices to the residents over WhatsApp and email already, so that they don’t put forth an excuse calling it a last minute development.
Ashok Gupta, vice president of Marine Drive Citizen's Association, stated that putting a check on bursting firecrackers is necessary this year as the majority of the population living in Marine Drive are senior citizens. "The people who come to burst firecrackers at Marine Drive promenade every year are not localities. This year, the administration needs to step up and control the issue. Many buildings have senior citizens and patients currently home quarantined because of COVID-19," Gupta said.
Similarly, Breach Candy resident Deepak Parekh said that there are 34 flats in his society. More than 80 per cent of these residents are retired. “Amidst the pandemic, we have decided to ban firecrackers in the building," he stated.
A senior civic official informed that citizens groups and resident associations have written to the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), urging a formal announcement. However, the civic body is yet to take a call on the issue. "Banning firecrackers completely would be unfair. The livelihood of many people is dependent on selling firecrackers. However, a check on celebrations could be called," said the official.