It is not a tradition or custom in T&T to celebrate Christmas with fireworks. Bursting bamboo is one traditional activity for Divali and has been expanded to include the use of fireworks. The Big Bang in T&T and many parts of the world are for people to ring in the New Year with fireworks.
Although there were lines of people at fireworks merchants yesterday stocking up on supplies to celebrate at the stroke of midnight on Old Year’s Night to herald the New Year, in the year of the COVID-19 pandemic the lines were shorter.
Even if COVID-19 puts a dent in the sales and use of fireworks, which are a bane to pets, babies, the elderly and the sick, animal welfare groups said the din and cacophony caused by fireworks are not silenced completely.
In a release on Saturday from Fireworks Use Sufferers (FUS), chairman Nalini Dial said “To all who are affected by fireworks, I suggest you all write letters to the PM and ask him why is this explosive device still being allowed to be imported into the country.
“What is its necessity? Why is he and his government allowing thousands of people to get their hands freely on this item and break the law?
“PM, are you aware of the numerous ill effects that setting off fireworks can and do cause? Do you care? Why must we law-abiding citizens have to endure this trauma, stress and anxiety every year?
“Why must these poor creatures, whose hearing is very magnified, have to be scared out of their wits, many suffer heart attacks, anxiety, and some get trapped trying to escape and get their death?”
Sita Kuruvilla, chairman of Council of the T&T Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (TTSPCA) said a total ban on fireworks would be much preferable.
She said in 2017 animal welfare NGOs and the Veterinary Association presented their findings to a joint select committee of Parliament entitled ‘Inquiry into the adverse health effects of fireworks.’
Kuruvilla said the committee report was published on the Parliament website in May 2018 with a number of recommendations for greater regulation of use by the public and greater enforcement of the provisions of the Summary Offences Act, Chapter 11.02 that prohibits the use of fireworks in and outside of towns.
She said she was disappointed that they haven’t been implemented and it was disheartening.
Kuruvilla said it was always worse at Christmas time for animals, it was a hard and depressing time for association members as people cleaned their houses and decided to get rid of their pets as well sometimes abandoning them outside their gates.
She said there was no government infrastructure in T&T to deal with dogs of any kind, dangerous dogs notwithstanding.
Kuruvilla said COVID-19 had exacerbated the situation with people giving up their pets, and society was constantly inundated with calls from people who could no longer take care of their pets.
She said, however, the society receives overwhelming support from the public in donations almost every day, from food, cleaning supplies, toys and other goods which were very encouraging.