Top court lifts ban on sale of firecrackers in Delhi, halves licenses

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A bench of Justice MB Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta, said, "Keeping in mind the adverse effects of air pollution, the human right to breathe clean air and the human right to health, the Central Government and other authorities should consider encouraging display of fireworks through community participation rather than individual bursting of fireworks". "The permanent licencees are at liberty to exhaust their existing stock of fireworks in Delhi and the NCR and, if that is not possible, take measures to transport the stocks outside Delhi and the NCR", the court directed.

"Have the steps already taken by the concerned authorities reduced air pollution during Diwali?".

The apex court in its order ruled that suspension of permanent licences is lifted for time being and it may need a review after Diwali depending on air quality.

Now firecrackers would be available in Delhi NCR, including neighbouring states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, in the coming festive season to celebrate Dussehara and Diwali. Now on Tuesday Supreme court once again raised an issue over the entry of crackers in Delhi-NCR. It also banned use of compounds of antimony, lithium, mercury, arsenic, lead and strontium chromate in fireworks.

The top court directed the Delhi Police to reduce grant of temporary licences by about 50 percent of those granted in 2016 and cap it at 500.

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However, it passed various directions for regulating temporary licences. Similarly, the States in the NCR are restrained from granting more than 50% of the number of temporary licences granted in 2016.

The bench pulled up Delhi government and city police for not taking preventive steps to curb the pollution caused due to fire cracking and directed the Education department of NCT government to formulate a plan within 15 days to sensitised people particularly children about the health hazards of firecracking. It seems to us that the steps so far taken by the Government of NCT of Delhi are limited to issuing directions, which is merely paperwork.

"This is disconcerting. It is high time that governmental authorities realise that the cost of ill health (particularly among children) is far greater in psycho-social terms than in financial and economic terms".

A year ago on November 11, the apex court has ordered suspension of all licences permitting the sale of fireworks, wholesale and retail within NCR till further orders.

Accepting that there is a lack of clarity on the safety limits of various metals and constituents used in fireworks, the order directs the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Fireworks Development Research Centre (FDRC) to jointly conduct a research for laying down appropriate standards for ambient air quality in relation to the bursting of fireworks and the release of their constituents in the air. Also, the committee has to submit a report on the issue by December 31st, 2017.

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