SC may cut down cracker-burn­ing time dur­ing Di­wali af­ter pe­ti­tion by 3 tod­dlers

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The Supreme Court has said that it is plan­ning to limit the cracker-burn­ing time start­ing this Di­wali, in re­sponse to a pe­ti­tion filed by three Delhi-based in­fants. So, if things go as planned, be­tween 5 pm and 10 pm will be what cracker en­thu­si­asts will be al­lowed to in­dulge them­selves.

In the pub­lic in­ter­est lit­i­ga­tion (PIL) re­port­edly filed through their lawyer-fa­thers, 14-month-old Zoya Rao Bhasin and Arjun Gopal and Aarav Bhan­dari, both 6 months, said that burn­ing of fire­crack­ers dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son would fur­ther pol­lute the al­ready pol­luted air as well as harm their health. The wide­spread use of fire­crack­ers in Delhi dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son ex­poses vul­ner­a­ble in­fants to se­vere diseases such as asthma and wors­ens their lung con­di­tions, the pe­ti­tion said. It added that in Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber, when Dussehra and Di­wali are cel­e­brated, the “mas­sive risks of lung dis­ease” in­creases be­cause “smoke from fire­crack­ers clogs the at­mos­phere.” The pe­ti­tion refers to Ar­ti­cle 21 of the In­dian Con­sti­tu­tion deal­ing with preven­tion of en­croach­ment upon per­sonal lib­erty or de­pri­va­tion of life of a per­son.

Hear­ing the PIL, the bench of Chief Jus­tice HL Dattu and Ami­tava Roy di­rected so­lic­i­tor gen­eral Ran­jit Ku­mar and ad­di­tional so­lic­i­tor gen­eral Manin­der Singh to con­tact the re­spec­tive de­part­ments in the state gov­ern­ments and ar­rive with a re­sponse within a week.

One of the sug­ges­tions in the PIL re­lated to lim­it­ing the cracker-burst­ing time to the pe­riod be­tween 7 pm and 9 pm. The bench thought it was too small a win­dow and sug­gested that it could be from 5 pm to 10 pm on Di­wali day.

The bench ac­cepted two sug­ges­tions from ad­vo­cate AM Singhvi, the pe­ti­tion­ers’ coun­sel, on spread­ing aware­ness about the ill-ef­fects of crack­ers. It or­dered the cen­tre and state gov­ern­ments to give wide public­ity to ill-ef­fects of crack­ers in both print and elec­tronic me­dia.

The other sug­ges­tions in­cluded re­strict­ing grant of li­cense to low-haz­ard fire­works, lim­it­ing li­cense to man­u­fac­ture fire­works to a brief pe­riod be­tween Dussehra and Di­wali, and ask­ing res­i­dent wel­fare as­so­ci­a­tions to hold com­mu­nity fire­works for a brief pe­riod of 30 min­utes on a sin­gle day.

Kal­iswari Fire­works Pvt. Ltd – one of the largest fire­works man­u­fac­tur­ers based in Si­vakasi, Tamil Nadu – has moved the apex court to be­come a party to the pe­ti­tion, say­ing a ver­dict on the pe­ti­tion would af­fect them com­mer­cially.

FSSAI takes junk food off school menu

Food Safety and Stan­dards Author­ity of In­dia (FSSAI) has is­sued draft guide­lines on avail­abil­ity of whole­some and nu­tri­tious food in schools with a view to controllin­g junk-food consumptio­n among chil­dren. Th­ese guide­lines pro­pose to re­strict sale or avail­abil­ity of food that are high in fat, salt or sugar con­tent, within 50 me­tres of schools’ premises. This in­cludes an ar­ray of food and bev­er­ages in­clud­ing chips, ready-to-eat noo­dles, piz­zas, burg­ers, sugar-sweet­ened car­bon­ated and non-car­bon­ated drinks, potato fries (com­monly called French fries), and con­fec­tionery items.

The draft guide­lines have also sug­gested cre­ation of a can­teen pol­icy and school health ed­u­ca­tion pro­grammes to make stu­dents and par­ents aware of the ill-ef­fects of un­healthy food habits.

“The iden­ti­fied foods are based on an eval­u­a­tion done on avail­able sim­i­lar foods in In­dia. They are con­sid­ered un­healthy due to im­bal­ance in nu­tri­ents – that is, high in fat, sugar and salt, and/or low in pro­teins, fi­bres and nuts,” the draft ex­plains.

The food reg­u­la­tor’s move was trig­gered by the Delhi High Court’s di­rec­tive in July-end, giv­ing three months to the au­thor­i­ties to mon­i­tor avail­abil­ity of junk food in schools. Var­i­ous health groups have been ad­vo­cat­ing against avail­abil­ity and sale of un­healthy food in schools.

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