The Supreme Court on Wednesday, September 29, said the Central Bureau of Investigation's report on use of toxic chemicals in manufacturing firecrackers is very serious and "prima facie" it appears that there has been violation of the court's orders on use of barium and labelling of fireworks.
A bench of Justices M R Shah and A S Bopanna said the CBI has discovered harmful chemicals such as barium salts in the seized items. The court noted that manufacturers such as Hindustan Fireworks and Standard Fireworks purchased barium in huge quantities and used these chemicals in the fireworks.
The court had noted on March 3 last year that Standard Fireworks, Hindustan Fireworks, Vinayaga Fireworks Industries, Shree Mariamman Fireworks, Shree Suryakalaa Fireworks and Selva Vinayagar Fireworks were directed to show cause why they not be punished for contempt for violation of earlier orders for using the banned chemicals.
Sale Of Firecrackers During Festivals
"The CBI report states that various samples of firecrackers and raw materials were collected from manufacturing factories which were sent for chemical analysis. It has been found that in many firecrackers barium and barium salts have been found. It has also been found that a huge quantity of barium/barium salts has been bought by manufacturers despite the ban imposed on the chemical in 2019. It has also been found that labels of finished crackers have revealed they did not contain the chemical composition and year of manufacture," the bench said.
Appearing for manufacturers, senior ANS Nadkarni urged the court to issue directions to the Centre to give its nod to improved crackers and green crackers (with reduced emissions) ahead of Diwali as livelihoods of lakhs of people who work in the industry are at stake.
But the bench said that under the guise of right to employment "we cannot allow a few to play with the lives of citizens. We have to strike a balance between the right to employment and right to life of citizens. But our prime focus is to protect the right to life of innocent citizens who suffer due to the use of firecrackers."
The court noted that despite an express ban on the manufacture and sale of joined firecrackers or laaris, they are still used in all festivals, religious processions and election victory marches.
Side Effects On Health
However, it added that "to give one further opportunity to the manufacturers to put forward their case and give them a report of CBI... We direct the Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati to furnish a copy of enquiry report to respective counsels appearing for manufacturers by tomorrow. The copy of the report be also furnished to the counsel for the petitioner. Put up on October 6".
The bench said it will be open for concerned manufacturers against whom allegations are made to file a counter-affidavit and granted one more opportunity to the manufacturers to put forward their case with respect to the report of the Joint Director, CBI, Chennai. Apart from being harmful for health, firecrackers also pollute the environment. It can affect the nervous system, cause anemia and damage to kidney, skin problems etc. They release pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide etc in the air, which causes ailments like asthma and bronchitis.
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