SC refuses to ban firecrackers, reiterates night-time restriction
DIKTAT Apex Court asks govt to launch publicity campaign highlighting harmful effects of firecrackers
The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to ban firecrackers or direct authorities to allot a designated place during Diwali to prevent people from bursting them everywhere, saying it was not possible to issue orders that couldn’t be implemented.
The top court reiterated its earlier decision to limit the bursting of crackers between 6 am and 10pm, amid concerns that rampant firecracker usage could trigger a massive spike in the city’s pollution levels, the worst in the world.
“If a citizen wants to burst cracker at his home, he can also come up and say I have the right to do so. This sort of direction cannot be given hurriedly,” said a bench headed by Chief Justice of India HL Dattu.
The court was hearing a petition by senior counsel Abhishek Singhvi, who requested the court on behalf of three child petitioners to issue an interim direction restricting the duration of fireworks to just three hours and identifying a specific area for bursting them.
“This is an unreasonable request. Today we can’t be saying, ‘go to a maidan to burst crackers’,” the bench told the senior advocate.
Official data over the past five years on Diwali shows the level of suspended particulate matter – which causes respiratory and cardiac problems -- often doubles during the time.
Statistics show the pollution generally starts surging at around 6 pm on Diwali and peaks between 10 pm and midnight. The air continues to remain filthy till about 6am the next day with thick haze engulfing residential areas after hours of firecracker bursting and respiratory difficulties reported among the elderly and children.
Central and state governments have issued guidelines limiting the timing and kind of firecrackers that can be sold but the regulations are often poorly implemented, leading to rising noise pollution levels as well.
On October 16, the top court asked the government to publicise the harmful effects of crackers and instruct schools to teach students the same, but expressed its unhappiness when Singhvi told the judges that the administration hadn’t taken up any steps so far.
CONTINUED ON P8