NGO Awaaz Foundation and Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) conducted a chemical testing of crackers available in local markets, just to find that markets across the city are selling an oxymoron: 'green' crackers, most of which claim to cause around 30 per cent less pollution than the average cracker. Samples of such 'green' crackers tested by the NGO Awaaz Foundation have revealed that most of these 'green' crackers contain hazardous chemicals banned by the Supreme Court and also bear fake QR codes.
Scientists at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSRI) NEERI, had developed formulations to make firecrackers that reduce air pollution by 30-40 per cent -- green crackers.
The MPCB and Awaaz Foundation on Thursday evening tested firecrackers for compliance with noise standards at RCF ground in Chembur. Around 30 types of crackers — from different manufacturers available in the local market— were tested and the noise levels were found to be within the permissible decibel (dB) limits except for two of them.
Following this on Sunday, they conducted chemical testing of these samples and found the majority of them were containing banned chemicals while many were found to be using fake QR codes.
In a letter written to the director of the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) ,Sumaira Abdulali, convenor of Awaaz Foundation, has pointed out that out of the crackers claiming to be ‘green’ and having the NEERI stamp, only a few crackers carried a QR Code and the rest carried bar codes which do not fulfil the requirement of the Supreme Court.
Elaborating on the findings of the chemical test and detailed investigation of the so-called green crackers, Abdulali said: "Samples of Firecrackers (believed to be green crackers) bought by Awaaz Foundation for measuring noise levels with MPCB, apparently not green crackers. Emissions from green crackers developed by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSRI) NEERI require to be traceable through QR codes according to SC. Most ‘Green’ crackers do not publish QR codes at all and emissions are untraceable."
QR codes printed on the packets authenticate buyers about the details of the manufacturing company, manufacturing date, expiry date, and contents (in case of crackers the chemical components) of the product. It also confirms whether it has followed the prescribed standards in terms of noise level and emissions etc.
Abdulali added: "Few having QR codes alongside CSRI NEERI stamp of green crackers but QR codes are not registered to NEERI and are fake. Even banned chemical ‘barium nitrate’ is openly listed on boxes of some packets claimed to be green crackers."
For the purpose of testing noise levels/pollution, Awaaz Foundation procured ‘Green Crackers' which carried the stamp of NEERI from the market in Mumbai on October 19, 2021.
In a reply to Abdulali on Twitter, the Environmental scientist of NEERI tweeted: "The spurious products in the market is a serious issue and it can be tackled only through close verification and tracking. Though I am not involved now, it’s important to note that a QR code generation and tracking system was put in place in consultation with Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization (PESO), Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)."
Kumar added: "QR code for emission and compositional information of formulation have been part of the clean Green Crackers for its production and distribution. For clean air, this is the most essential step supported by the Supreme court, CPCB and MoEFCC. Make Public aware for use of this tool."
On Friday, Abdulali in her letter to chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and environment minister Aditya Thackeray had requested that all crackers which do not conform to health-based safety standards including all non-green crackers should be confiscated before the sale and use not only in Mumbai but across Maharashtra.
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