Guwahati: The Supreme Court's recent judgment setting a time limit of two hours for the bursting of firecrackers during Diwali has not gone down well with active social media users. Social media platforms are abuzz with heated debates on whether firecrackers are the only source of pollution in India, and on why this selective restriction with regard to Diwali alone. Some mischievous social accounts have also posted content that could trigger communal hatred.
A petition seeking a ban on firecrackers was filed on behalf of three infants. 2015. At the time of filing the petition, two of the infants were six-month-old infants, while the third one was 14 months old. The fathers of all the three infants who are resident of Delhi had filed the plea on their behalf as the city was reeling under the worst smog the day following Diwali. The petitioners were concerned about the quality of the air they were breathing.
Though many people are opposing the decision of the Supreme Court and claiming that Diwali is not the only reason for pollution, data’s revealing pollution level in the air in many parts of the country, and especially in Delhi after Diwali is not good at all.
“During Diwali of 2016, which was celebrated on October 30, 2016, the air quality in Delhi and NCR worsened alarmingly. In fact, certain reports indicated that the air quality standards in early November of that year were the worst in the world,” the Supreme Court has noted. Air pollution had gone up to 29 times above the World Health Organisation standards during Diwali in 2016.
Subsequently, the Supreme Court temporarily banned the use of fireworks in the National Capital Region in 2017. That year, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) reported that the pollution levels in Delhi were lower compared to the air quality recorded during Diwali in 2016.
Residents of Delhi are allowed to take part in community fireworks events on any festivals and occasions like marriages. There is no such restriction for the rest of the country. However, the verdict states “an endeavour shall be made by them also to explore the feasibility of community firecracking.”
Under existing laws, prior approval is needed for “public display” of fireworks during occasions such as Dusshera, Gurupurba, village fairs or temple festivities. Police Commissioner or District Magistrate is usually the licencing authority. Prior approvals are not needed for private events such as marriages, but the fireworks used must be certified by Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) and bursting them is not allowed between 10 pm and 6 am under existing laws.
Although Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Tuesday that CSIR laboratories have developed Green crackers" which are environment-friendly crackers and cause less harm, but these crackers have to be tested for safety by the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO). With Diwali approaching in a few days, it is unlikely that such crackers will hit the market within such a short time span.
The Supreme Court which has allowed bursting firecrackers for two hours on Diwali, it has restricted its usage to 30 minutes on Christmas and New Year's Eve (from 11:55 p.m. till 12:30 a.m. only).