SC re­fuses to ban fire­crack­ers, re­it­er­ates night-time re­stric­tion

DIK­TAT Apex Court asks govt to launch pub­lic­ity cam­paign high­light­ing harm­ful ef­fects of fire­crack­ers

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Bhadra Sinha bhadra.sinha@hin­dus­tan­times.com

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

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