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The issue of banning firecrackers in the Delhi NCR region came up again before eh Supreme Court and the bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan on Wednesday (August 1) heard debates on whether, because seasonal spikes of pollution, an entire industry can be banned.

There have been three judgments in this regard o far, and overall the situation s that the Supreme Court has banned firecrackers due to heavy pollution caused by the fireworks in the Delhi NCR region.

The court had directed the Centre to:

  1. Suspend all such licenses as permit sale of fireworks, wholesale and retail within the territory of NCR.
  2. The suspension shall remain in force till further orders of this Court.
  3. No such licenses shall be granted or renewed till further orders.

I was also directed the CPCB to study and prepare a report on the harmful effects of the materials which are currently being used in the manufacture of fireworks.

Today, while dealing with the issue, Justice Sikri posed a question. “Are we supposed to take a holistic approach and ban everything that contributes to causing pollution, or take an ad hoc approach and simply ban firecrackers as in the prayer?”

The judge also said that the opposite party may raise the contention on their right to celebrate, right to livelihood etc.

Counsel Sundaram, appearing for a firecracker manufacturer, pointed said that “from a layman’s point of view we agree that pollution happens, but studies show that the change has been meager, post banning. There should be a scientific study.”

The bench agreed to this.

The opposing counsel said that there are three orders pertaining to firecrackers wherein it is admitted undeniably that firecrackers contribute towards pollution. He said that PM 2.5 coming out of bursting of firecrackers is harmful and it remains in the lungs for a lifetime once inhaled.

While reading a CPCB report the counsel said that pursuant to a ban imposed on firecrackers by the court, pollution during Diwali 2017 was reduced as compared to Diwali 2016.

Counsel Sundaram, while opposing the argument, interjected, saying that the reason for such reduction if any was because the Diwali in 2017 came early by a month as compared to Diwali in 2016.

Even though the ban was imposed on selling firecrackers, people were selling by various modes such as through their home, online etc. Further, people were allowed to burst firecrackers beyond permitted time, submits the counsel. While concluding his arguments, the counsel firstly prays to ban possession of firecrackers in NCR and further more ban it pan India.

The doctor in court said that temporary spike due to bursting for firecrackers can result in severe brain and heart problem apart from lungs. He relied on the study conducted by Harvard. Smokers and non smokers have the same set of lungs these days that is black in colour which were earlier used to be pink in colour, submits the doctor.

Counsel Sundaram asked: “Why are you only targeting firecrackers? Can we say the increase in pollution is only attributed to bursting of firecrackers? Even though there is a spike, is it so much that the industry be banned? There is a spike but not such that I must be singled out when cars are being run, construction is at full swing.”

The matter is listed for next Wednesday at 2 pm.

—India Legal Bureau

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