New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday banned transportation of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR for Dussehra and Diwali, with an emphasis on "health of children should be of foremost concern in this regard."
Issuing a 16-point order, a bench led by Justice Madan B Lokur noted there is enough quantity of firecrackers already available in Delhi-NCR and the dealers should exhaust them first.
The court urged the Delhi government and other authorities to consider encouraging fireworks display through community participation rather than individual bursting of fireworks.
"There can be no doubt that the residents of the NCT of Delhi and indeed the entire NCR are entitled to breathe unpolluted air. They are entitled to the protection of their health from the adverse consequences of breathing in air polluted by the bursting of fireworks," underlined the apex court, as it dealt wjth a PIL argued by advocate Gopal Sankarnarayan.
It modified its previous order to suspend licenses of the firecracker dealers while giving them 30 days’ time to counter why the quantity of firecrackers should not go down to 50 percent by 2018.
"While lifting the suspension on the permanent licences granted, we put these licensees on notice for Dussehra and Diwali in 2018 that they will be permitted to possess and sell only 50% of the quantity permitted in 2017 and this will substantially reduce over the next couple of years," it said.
The Court added that the revival of licenses will be reviewed after Diwali depending upon ambient air quality post Diwali.
About temporary licenses to selk firecrackers, the bench capped the number at 500 and directed the Delhi Police to make sure the number of temporary licenses is not more than 50 per cent of such licenses in 2016.
"Similarly, the states in the NCR are restrained from granting more than 50% of the number of temporary licences granted in 2016," ordered the bench.
While prohibiting the use of compounds of arsenic and lead in the manufacture of fireworks, the Court directed the concerned police authorities and the District Magistrates to ensure that firecrackers are not burst in silence zones that is, an area at least 100 meters away from hospitals, courts, educational institutions etc.
It added that school children should be encouraged to reduce, if not eliminate, the bursting of fireworks as a part of any festivities.
The bench also ordered: "The Department of Education of the Government of NCT of Delhi and the corresponding Department in other States in the NCR shall immediately formulate a plan of action, in not more than 15 days, to reach out to children in all the schools through the school staff, volunteers and NGOs to sensitize and educate school children on the health hazards and ill-effects of breathing polluted air, including air that is polluted due to fireworks."
It further set up a committee to carry out a research on impact of bursting firecrackers during Dussehra and Diwali. The committee will be chaired by the chairperson of the Central Pollution Control Board, which will submit its report in the top court by December 31.
It called "worrying" absence of standards for manufacturing firecrackers. "The governmental authorities need to realize their responsibility regarding the care and protection of the health of the people in Delhi and NCR and the importance of launching a sustained campaign to reduce air pollution to manageable limits during Diwali and the period immediately thereafter," held the bench.