Aizawl: As the clock struck twelve on New Year’s Eve in Aizawl, the skies lit up in hues of gold, pink and green. People from all over the city lit firecrackers to welcome the new year starting around 11.:30 pm and continued till around 1:00 am. This happened despite a strong mandate from the Mizoram Police banning firecrackers and lanterns. 

A group of friends watch the fireworks in Aizawl. PC: @will_naxxville

However, the ‘celebrations’ came at a great cost to the city’s air quality among others. On Thursday, the Mizoram Pollution Control Board published a statement with a report on the pollution levels in the city on New Year’s eve.

On December 31, 2022, the pollution level on midnight of December 31, 2021, was 151µg/m3The PM10 level on December 31, 2022 afternoon was 67µg/m3 while at midnight between 12-1 pm, it was 285µg/m3. PC: @tlauliana

As per the Continuous/Automatic Air Quality Monitoring Station in Sikulpuikawn, the PM10 level on December 31, 2022 afternoon was 67µg/m3 while at midnight between 12-1 pm, it was 285µg/m3. In the previous year, the pollution level on midnight of December 31, 2021, was 151µg/m3, but it had doubled this year. As per the report, the level of fine particulate matter, PM2.5 on the afternoon of December 31, 2022, was 17µg/m3 while at midnight between 12-1 am, it was 67µg/m3. The pollution level crossed the National Standards, which is 50µg/m3 and reached stage 4 of the Air Quality Index.

On December 31, 2022, the pollution level on midnight of December 31, 2022, was 151µg/m3. PC: @tlauliana

Commenting on the state government’s failure to ban fireworks, the youth wing of the Congress party in Mizoram said the incident highlighted the state’s failure to enforce law and order. “They have to stop giving orders for the sake of it and work to enforce it. If we continue this way, we will soon become a lawless state,” the youth wing said.

They also pointed out how the state tourism department posted videos of the fireworks on their official pages across social media platforms despite a strict ban from the home department.

PC: @tlauliana

“Videos and pictures of the firework display were posted on the pages of the tourism department and the sports department, both headed by sports minister Robert Romawia Royte. This happened despite the YMA (Young Mizo Association) making announcements banning fireworks in every locality. It is quite shameful for the government,” a government employee told EastMojo on the condition of anonymity.

PC: @tlauliana

Residents also posted negative comments on Tourism Department’s social media handles. A user, @sammyvarte commented, “People were arrested —named and shamed— by Mizoram law enforcement for selling fireworks, and here Mizoram Tourism is explicitly celebrating the use of said fireworks. It’s indeed so #Mystical that citizens are mystified by such capricious governance.”

Another user, @the_mizo_observer commented on the Tourism Department’s post saying, “Such hypocrisy!! The government of Mizoram banned all firecrackers and even seized the same from some vendors and sellers (poor people) and today on New Year’s day this is the first post we see from the official Tourism department’s page…. such hypocrisy.”

What irked the masses was that the Mizoram Police had arrested and seized civilians selling sky lanterns and other pyrotechnics material. A criminal case was registered against six persons u/s 188 IPC. The fireworks seized were valued at almost Rs 2 lakh.

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Darthangpuii, a citizen of the Khatla locality told EastMojo, “These events clearly show the face of the Mizoram government. They make prohibitions but are not active in enforcing it. In the end, it just increases the suffering of the poor because they only arrest and seize goods from the poor. One department making rules and another department acting against it despite arrests made on the said rule shows how less the government really cares about its people.”

Also read | Mizoram Police grills top leader of Hmar militant outfit

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