Tuesday, October 23, 2018

SC says only ‘green’ crackers this Diwali, bans online sale

This year’s Diwali is set to be different as the Supreme Court on Tuesday permitted only “green” firecrackers with reduced noise and emission levels and fixed a two-hour period for bursting them during festivals and other celebrations to reduce air pollution.

While turning down the plea for a blanket ban on the manufacture and sale of firecrackers across the country, a bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, however, set out stringent standards for their manufacture besides putting restrictions on bursting them.

Holding that smoke from firecrackers contributes significantly towards deteriorating air quality, particularly during Diwali, the bench also banned the online sale of firecrackers through e-commerce sites like Amazon and Flipkart. The court also banned “joined firecrackers” (series crackers or ladis) and directed police to ensure that only “green” crackers are sold in the country.

The apex court said: “On Diwali day or on any other festivals like Gurpurab etc, when such fireworks generally take place, it would strictly be from 8pm till 10 pm. On Christmas and New Year’s Eve, when such fireworks start around midnight, it would be from 11.55pm till 12.30am only.” The timing would be applicable also to other occasions and celebrations like weddings.

The court turned down the plea that restrictions should not be imposed on bursting of firecrackers during Diwali as it is a part of the festival and would amount to violation of rights of manufacturers to carry on their trade and business. The bench said it did not find merit in such contention and hinted that more stringent measures could be imposed in future “if the situation so warrants”. The court accepted the plea of the Centre which suggested that the use of green crackers be allowed as the emission of particulate matter would be reduced by 30-35%.
The bench said the study revealed that PM2.5 mass concentrations increased due to firecrackers and on Diwali, both PM10 and PM 2.5 had increased 2 to 3.5 times in Delhi.

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