SC stipulates bursting time of firecrackers on Diwali

New Delhi: Keeping in view the increasing level of pollution and health hazards of firecrackers on citizens across the country, the Supreme Court on Tuesday stipulated the bursting time of firecrackers on Diwali and refused to put a stay on the sale of these substances.

The court said citizens will be allowed to burn crackers only between 8 pm and 10 pm on Diwali.
A division bench of the apex court headed by Justice Arjan Kumar Sikri and also comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan, in their 54-page judgement, said that crackers with reduced emission (improved crackers) and green crackers only would be permitted to be manufactured and sold.

The manufacture, sale and use of joined firecrackers (series crackers or laris) are hereby banned as they cause air, noise and solid waste problems, the court said in its judgement.

The top court, while pronouncing the judgement said that extensive public awareness campaigns shall be taken up by the central government/state governments/ schools/colleges informing the public about the harmful effects of firecrackers.

On Christmas Eve and New Year’s eve, fireworks will be permitted only from 11:55 p.m. till 12:30 a.m.
The Union of India, the Government of NCT of Delhi and the State Governments of the NCR would permit community fire-cracking only (for Diwali and other festivals), wherever it can be done. For this purpose, particular area/fields would be pre-identified and pre-designated by the concerned authorities. This exercise shall be completed within a period of one week from today so that the public at large is informed about the designated places one week before Diwali.

“The areas designated now for the purpose of Diwali shall be valid for community fire cracking on other occasions/ festivals. Even for marriages and other occasions, sale of improved crackers and green crackers is only permitted,” the court said.

The CPCB and respective State Pollution Control Boards/Pollution Control Committees (SPCBs/PCCs) of the States and Union Territories shall carry out short-term monitoring in their cities for 14 days, the court said.

It also made it clear that the sale shall only be through licensed traders and it shall be ensured that these licensed traders are selling those firecrackers which are permitted by this order.

The top court said that no e-commerce websites, including Flipkart, Amazon and so on shall accept any online orders and effect online sales. Any such types of e-commerce companies found selling crackers online will be hauled up for contempt of court and the Court may also pass, in that eventuality, orders of monetary penalties as well.

Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) which is only concerned and handles cases in Delhi and NCR, is directed to review the clinical composition of fireworks, particularly reducing Aluminum content, and shall submit its report within two weeks from today.

Even those crackers which have already been produced and they do not fulfil the conditions will not be allowed to be sold in Delhi and NCR.

The petitions had been filed by three toddlers — ranging from seven months to two years — through their fathers, who are concerned about the health of their children as they feel that due to the alarming degradation of the air quality, leading to severe air pollution in the city of Delhi, the petitioners may encounter various health hazards.

The petitioners claimed that children are much more vulnerable to air pollutants as exposure thereto may affect them in various ways, including aggravation of asthma, coughing, bronchitis, retarded nervous system breakdown and even cognitive impairment.

The petition also stated that there is a number of reasons which have contributed to poor air quality in Delhi and NCR. At the same time, it is emphasised that air pollution hits its nadir during Diwali time because of indiscriminate use of firecrackers, the chemical composition whereof increases harmful particulate matters such as PM2.5 or PM10 at alarming level thereby bringing the situation of ’emergency’.