SC re­fuses to ban fire­crack­ers, re­it­er­ates night-time re­stric­tion Stu­dents call off FTII strike, say fight to con­tinue

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

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - HINDUSTANTIMES - Bhadra Sinha bhadra.sinha@hin­dus­tan­times.com Yo­gesh Joshi yo­gesh.joshi@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.

CRACK­ERS MAKE DI­WALI COLOUR­FUL, BUT HAVE TOX­INS

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.

The stu­dents of Film and Tele­vi­sion In­sti­tute of In­dia (FTII) called off their 139-day­long strike on Wed­nes­day, say­ing they will con­tinue to protest un­til the gov­ern­ment re­vokes what they termed the “po­lit­i­cal ap­point­ments” of Ga­jen­dra Chauhan and four oth­ers.

The FTII stu­dent as­so­ci­a­tion said they have de­cided to re­turn to aca­demics. “We are re­turn­ing to aca­demics from to­day it­self. How­ever we will con­tinue to raise is­sues which we have been rais­ing since 139 days,” said Vikas Urs, rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the FTII stu­dents as­so­ci­a­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the stu­dents, they will con­tinue their protest through art and cin­ema. “We will call upon artist, academicians and com­mon cit­i­zens to take our voice for­ward,” said Urs.

The stu­dents were on strike since June 12 to op­pose the ap­point­ment of Chauhan, a tele­vi­sion ac­tor-turned-politi­cian, as FTII chair­man. The FTII stu­dents ad­dress the me­dia af­ter call­ing off the 139-day strike on Wed­nes­day.

stu­dents ac­cused Chauhan of lack­ing “stature” and “vi­sion”. The stu­dents also op­posed the ap­point­ments of Anagha Ghaisas, Naren­dra Pathak, Rahul So­la­purkar, Shailesh Gupta and Pran­jal Saikia, claim­ing that they are as­so­ci­ated with the RSS and its af­fil­i­ated or­gan­i­sa­tions.

Chauhan wel­comed the stu­dents’ de­ci­sion. “I am happy that stu­dents have called off their strike. I am plan­ning to visit FTII soon to un­der­stand the is­sues there and work on them as the chair­man,” Chauhan told HT.

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