SC lifts firecracker ban for Diwali
With over a month to go for Diwali, the Supreme Court on Tuesday revived the permanent licences for sale of firecrackers in Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR). The order is an interim arrangement as the Bench set up a Committee headed by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) chairman to study the harmful effects of firecrackers on human health and submit a report by December 31.
The court, by an interim order of November 11, 2016, had suspended all permanent licences for sale of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR. Lifting this ban, the Bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta felt that with the festive season around, a complete ban in the absence of any study would be an “extreme step”.
The Bench directed the Delhi Police to allow only up to 500 temporary licences this year. In 2016, a total of 968 temporary licences were issued for a period of 24 days in Delhi.
The Bench in its directions also issued an advisory to the Centre and concerned agencies to encourage display of fireworks through community participation rather than individual indulgence. The Bench was even critical of States adjoining Delhi for failing to provide data on pollution levels around Diwali and Dussehra.
The court granted the CPCB time till September 30 to come out with definite standards regarding the use of metals or other ingredients of fireworks and made “absolute” its July 31 order prohibiting use of “compounds of antimony, lithium, mercury, arsenic and lead in manufacture of fireworks”.
It even banned the use of strontium chromate in manufacture of fireworks as it is known to cause harm to human body. The court also prohibited transport of fireworks into Delhi and the NCR from outside the region till further orders.
The Bench further instructed the police and district administration to ensure firecrackers are not burst in “silence zones”, an area covering 100 metres around hospitals, educational institutions, courts and religious places.
The Education Depart-ments of Delhi and States in NCR have been asked to frame an action plan within 15 days to make children aware of the health hazards and ill-effects of firecrackers on environment.
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