SC lifts ban on sale of firecrackers in Delhi NCR

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Modifying its 2016 order, the Supreme Court on Tuesday lifted its ban on the sale of firecrackers in Delhi but with conditions.

"We must note that there has been no response from the States within the NCR giving the impression that air pollution is not a problem for the State governments despite the ill-effects and health hazards of bursting fireworks... unless urgent steps are taken, there could be an adverse impact on the health of children", the court warned the authorities.

"No specific plan of action has been laid down by the Government of NCT of Delhi to make children aware of the hazards of bursting fireworks and the existing awareness campaigns have been allowed to drift over the last one year", it said, adding "there is no information on the success or failure of these campaigns".

"The suspension of permanent licences as directed by the order dated 11th November, 2016 is lifted for the time being". It had banned the grant or renewal of firecracker licences after various petitions had sought ban on use of fireworks during Diwali due to worse air quality. Consequently, a complete ban on the sale of fireworks would be an extreme step that might not be fully warranted by the facts available to us. In 2016, a total of 968 temporary licences were issued for a period of 24 days in Delhi. The court further said that "The concerned police authorities and district magistrate would guarantee that the fire crackers must not burst in distance silence zones, that is area of at least 100 meters away from hospitals, nursing homes, primary and district health care centers, education institutions, courts, religious places or any other area that may be declared as a Silence Zone by the concerned authorities".

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The order absolutely prohibits the use of compounds of Antimony, Lithium, Mercury, Arsenic and Lead in the manufacture of fireworks and has also prohibited the ingress of further firecrackers into NCR.

The court imposed a total ban on transport of firecrackers into Delhi and NCR from outside 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. However, this year Diwali came on 19th October 2017.

The Bench directed the Delhi Police to allow only up to 500 temporary licences this year.

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