Only ‘green’ crackers can be sold in Delhi, says SC

‘Other States can use existing stocks this year’
The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed States other than Delhi to use their existing stocks of crackers for Diwali next week. However, the Bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan directed that only green crackers can be manufactured henceforth across the country. That means once the existing stocks are used up, no new polluting crackers can be made. The court has allowed Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and the adjoining southern States, which celebrate Diwali in the morning, to burst crackers for two hours. The decision to finalise the time slots has been left to the State authorities. The Supreme Court, in its order on October 23, had fixed 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. as the time-slot for bursting crackers on religious festival days like Diwali uniformly across the country. As far as Delhi-NCR is concerned, the court did not relax its rigour both in terms of the time-slot for bursting crackers and the mandatory manufacture and sale of green crackers. The Bench refused to modify its October 23 order despite repeated requests from the firecracker manufacturing association, which pleaded it be allowed to produce and sell non-green crackers this year in NCR. “You mean you want us to allow you to contaminate the air this year and then you may fall in line next year,” Justice Sikri asked the association. The court refused to lift the pan-India ban on sale of crackers online through e-commerce websites. Any violation of this direction would lead to contempt of court, it said. The sale of green and improved crackers would be only through licensed traders, it said. The October 23 order was based on petitions filed by a six-month-old and a 14-month-old, through their fathers in 2015. They had said the air pollution caused by various factors, especially firecrackers, has made Delhi a gas chamber. They pleaded for their right to life. While the court made community bursting of crackers in pre-designated areas compulsory for Delhi-NCR, it urged other States to endeavour to attempt the welfare measure. The court said the October 23 order was only a preliminary step and it would not shy away from imposing more stringent measures in the future “if the situation so warrants”.

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