Supreme Court Bans Entry Of Firecrackers In Delhi-NCR For Dussehra, Diwali

Faith Castro
September 12, 2017

In a stern action to curb air pollution during the ongoing wedding season, the Supreme Court in November 2016 suspended the licences of all firecracker sellers in Delhi and National Capital Region, virtually banning their sale and purchase.

The apex court, however, said its order lifting the ban on sale of fire crackers might require a "review" after Diwali depending on the ambient air quality after the festival.

In November a year ago, the court had suspended all licenses for sale and retail of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR. In view of the recurring blanket of noxious fumes and the inevitable pollution-related illnesses people suffer after every Diwali, the top court halved the number of cracker sale licences to be given out across Delhi and National Capital Region, saying, "more than 50 lakh crackers should be enough".In Delhi, a maximum of 500 licences will be given. Similarly, the States in the NCR are restrained from granting more than 50% of the number of temporary licences granted in 2016. In our opinion, even 50,00,000 kg of fireworks is far more than enough for Dussehra and Diwali in 2017.

The top court also prohibited transport of fireworks into Delhi and the NCR from outside the region till further orders.

The bench also noted that there was no response from the states within the NCR, which gave the impression that air pollution was not a problem for them despite the ill-effects and health hazards of bursting fireworks.

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In a paradigm shift from its stand past year, the court struck a balance between its primary concern to protect the "human right to breathe good quality air" and the commercial interests of the fireworks industry. It also banned use of compounds of antimony, lithium, mercury, arsenic, lead and strontium chromate in fireworks.

While lifting the ban on permanent licences, it passed directions for regulating temporary licences. The Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO), which issues the permanent licences, would have to ensure compliance.

(15) In any event, a research study also needs to be conducted on the impact of bursting fireworks during Dussehra and Diwali on the health of the people.

Following this, the court has asked the Chairperson of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to submit the report of the pollution level by December 31, 2017, to the court.

Also, the Court appealed the Delhi Government and the other authorities for the encouraging of fireworks display through community participation rather than the individual bursting.

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