September 12th, 2017
The Supreme Court has temporarily lifted its order of suspending the permanent licences for sale and retail of firecrackers within the National Capital Region (NCR) during Diwali and Dussehra on 12 September, reported Hindustan Times.
The court has, however, added that its order lifting the suspension of permanent licences should be put to review after Diwali, depending on the ambient air quality after the festival.
You can read the full verdict here.
The bench, comprising Justices MB Lokur and Deepak Gupta, in the verdict appointed a committee to be headed by the chairperson of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). The committee would research the impact bursting firecrackers during the festive seasons of Dussehra and Diwali has on the health of the people and submit its reports on or before December 31.
The court has also urged the concerned authorities to encourage bursting of fireworks by a community as opposed to individual bursting of crackers.
The Delhi Police has also been directed to reduce the number of temporary licences by 50% of those granted last year and cap it at 500.
Since there are enough fireworks available for sale in Delhi and the NCR, the transport of fireworks into Delhi and the NCR from outside the region is prohibited by the apex court. The concerned law enforcement authorities are to ensure that there are no entry of fireworks into Delhi and the NCR till further orders.
“In our opinion, even 50,00,000 kg of fireworks is far more than enough for Dussehra and Diwali in 2017,” the verdict read.
The court has also expressed distress over the absence of standards for manufacturing firecrackers.
The bench directed the police authorities and district magistrates to ensure that fireworks are not burst in “silence zones” – an area of at least 100 metres from hospitals, health care centres, educational institutions, courts and religious places. Use of compounds of arsenic and lead in the manufacture of fireworks have also been prohibited.
The court has also decided to rope in the Department of Education of the Government of NCT of Delhi and the corresponding Department in other States in the NCR. They are to formulate a plan of action soon to reach out to children in all the schools via school staff, volunteers and NGOs to sensitise students on the health hazards and ill-effects of breathing polluted air, including air that is polluted due to fireworks.
The court’s order came on account of the plea of fire cracker manufacturers who were seeking a relaxation of its order of 11 November 2016 that suspended all licences which permitted the sale of fireworks, wholesale and retail, within the territory of NCR.