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India: SC allows States to fix firecracker slot

November 28, 2018

www.sci.gov.in

As the season of festivity prevails, the spirit of joy and enthusiasm reaches to another level. The festival of Diwali allows people to engage in celebrations together by exchange of greetings and sweets. Adding colour and illuminating the dark sky, firecrackers add the elements of sparkles, thrill and glitter to the festival. Crackers are also used during festivals like Gurpurab and other occasions such as marriages and other processions. Although, these fireworks bring cheer to the lives of individuals, they are the immense source of air pollution reducing the quality of the living ecosystem and jeopardizing the ecosystem.

Deterioration of environment

Amidst the amount of happiness these fireworks add to the occasion, their bursting release various harmful components in the surrounding environment including poisonous gases, particulate matter, solid wastes which reduce the quality of air making it unfit for consumption by living beings. These emissions are the cause of numerous problems such as dermatological issues, breathlessness, chronic respiratory disorders, cardiovascular problems, retardation of foetal growth, etc. Adding to the concerns is the noise that is coupled with the crackers burning process which cause increased anxiety, tension to those already suffering from problems such as heart issues, blood pressure, etc. In the moment of personal rejoice often the greater good of public health is overlooked.

Solution by Supreme Court

The Apex Court (hereinafter referred to as the “Supreme Court” or “Court) of the country has come forward to tackle the menace of the reckless cracker bursting on several festivals and other like occasions. In its order dated October 23, 2018, the Supreme Court of India has permitted the use of ‘green’ crackers with low emission during the course of festival celebrations.[1] The Court has ordered for sale of such fireworks through registered and licensed sellers restricting the cracker bursting time- for Diwali/ Gurpurab from 8:00 p.m. till 10:00 p.m. only, while for Christmas/ New Year eve from 11:55 p.m. till 12:30 a.m. only.

Firecracker bursting slot

In furtherance to the aforesaid order, the Court of the highest judicature has allowed southern States of the nation such as Tamil Nadu to decide the time slot when people can burst crackers on festival days, provided the total time does not cross the 2-hour mark.[2] This came in response to the plea raised by the said State Governments claiming that within their territorial reigns, Diwali was celebrated in the morning with crackers. [3] Owing to the variation in the pattern of celebration, the Supreme Court has permitted the bursting of crackers at different time intervals. However, this does not extend the duration of such burning of fireworks beyond the prescribed 2-hour limit.

Dealing with the challenge posed by increasing levels of air pollution in the country particularly during this time of the year which witnesses a number of festivities and allied occasions adding to the deterioration of the air quality, steps are being taken at various levels to control the emission quantity. Not only has the use of green crackers, not causing pollution  but other forms of environmental damages are also being controlled such as efforts to remove the old vehicles causing pollution  from roads, shutting down of activities such as construction and other industrial works adding to the levels of contamination and encouraging public for shared travel.

[1] SC Writ Petition (Civil) No. 728 of 2015

[2] https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/states-can-fix-own-slots-for-crackers/article25374976.ece

[3] https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/sc-allows-states-to-fix-own-two-hour-cracker-slots-on-diwali/articleshow/66438821.cms

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