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No sale of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR this Diwali, rules SC

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

Firecrackers will not be sold in Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR) this Diwali as the Supreme Court on Monday restored a ban on their sale in the national capital and its suburbs till this month-end.

The apex court said its 12 September 2017 order, temporarily lifting the stay on this ban to permit sale of firecrackers in the NCR, will be made effective only from 1 November ~ 12 days after Diwali which will be celebrated on 19 October. It ordered “forthwith” suspension of temporary licences issued by the police for sale of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR following its 12 September order.

A Bench headed by Justice A K Sikri said the apex court’s 11 November 2016 order suspending the licences for sale of firecrackers in the NCR “should be given one chance to test itself” to see if there would be its positive effects during Diwali. The court had then, after Diwali, suspended all licenses which permits sale of fireworks, wholesale and retail, within the NCR territory till further orders.

Referring to the air pollution levels in Delhi-NCR during and immediately after Diwali 2016, the Supreme Court Monday observed that due to the adverse effects of burning of fire crackers “the air quality deteriorates abysmally and alarmingly and the city chokes thereby”.

The Bench said the 11 November 2016 order was passed by the court keeping in view the situation that had then arisen after Diwali. “This order prevailed during the year but the impact and effect of this order remains to be tested on Diwali days,” the Bench, also comprising Justices A M Sapre and Ashok Bhushan, said.

“Going by these considerations, we are of the opinion that the judgment dated September 12, 2017 passed by this court should be made effective only from November 1, 2017. To put it clearly, though we are not tweaking with the various directions contained in the order dated September 12, 2017, the effect of that order would not be given during this Diwali and, therefore, we are making it effective only from November 1, 2017,” the Bench said.

It said further orders on this issue could be passed after assessing the situation in the wake of the Diwali season.

The apex court observed that the adverse effects of firecrackers during Diwali have been witnessed year after year and that in 2016 it had led to the closing of schools in Delhi and
other urgent measures in the face of a “health emergency” situation.

The Bench noted that there was direct evidence of deterioration of air quality at alarming levels during Diwali every year.

“As already pointed out above, burning of these fire crackers during Diwali in 2016 had shot up PM (particulate matter) levels by three times, making Delhi the worst city in the world, insofar as air pollution is concerned,” it said.

The apex court also said ahead of Diwali there have been attempts every year on the part of government, media, NGOs and various other groups to create awareness among common people about the ill-effects of bursting of these firecrackers.

The apex court’s decision was hailed by a cross-section of people including parents, experts and enviromental activists, who highlighted the national capital’s hazardous air quality.

Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan also welcomed it and urged people to abide by the court’s guidelines and “give green Diwali and our environment a chance”.

The order however dealt a blow to the traders and businessmen dealing in firecrackers in the NCR, triggering resentment among them.