In this article, Ruchika Daga of Shri Navalmal Firodia Law College discusses whether the court should impose a permanent ban on crackers in Delhi or not.

Introduction

Ban on crackers means a legal or official prohibition on sale and manufacturing of crackers. Bans are usually implemented keeping in mind some goals to be achieved.

Ban on Crackers is a hot topic for discussion every year during Diwali and Dussehra though firecrackers are not the only reason for pollution but is one of the concerning reason of pollution. Air pollution levels had dangerously spiked after Diwali last year. In order to curb the pollution Supreme Court canceled all the licenses that permitted sale of wholesale as well as retail of firecrackers in delhi last year on November 11. However, the ban was lifted on 12 September this year as Supreme court says that graded and balanced and not radical and extreme approach was required to deal with pollution in the city.

The states in Delhi are restrained from granting more than 50% of the number of temporary licences which has been granted in 2016. The area of distribution of the temporary licences is entirely on the authorities to decide.

There are enough of crackers available for sale in Delhi and the transportation of fireworks in Delhi and NCR from outside the region is prohibited and the concerned law enforcement authorities will make sure that there is no further entry of fireworks into Delhi and the NCR till further orders.

It has been directed that the police authorities and district magistrates to make sure that firecrackers do not burst in “silence zones”, that is an area of at least 100 metres from courts, hospitals, educational institutions and religious places or any other area that has been declared a ‘silence zone’ by the concerned authorities.

Court appointed a committee headed by chairman of central pollution control board(CPCB), National Physical Laboratory, Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences, Fire Development and Research Centre, National Environment Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) and scientists from the State Pollution Control Boards to conduct a research on the impact of bursting firecrackers during the festival of Dussehra and Diwali on the impact of health of the people.

Keeping in mind the detrimental effects of air pollution, the human right to breathe clean air, The Central Government and other authorities should consider encouraging display of fireworks through community participation rather than individual bursting of fireworks,” encouraging display of fireworks through community participation rather than individual bursting of fireworks,”.

Citizens of Delhi have been suffering because of high pollution levels every year after Diwali up till spring season. During Diwali last year, the city’s air pollution levels were 15-16 times beyond the safety limits.

Have you ever wondered how many harmful effects do these firecrackers create for the environment?

Air pollution

Smog

Smog results in reduction of visibility which lead to accidents as well as it is toxic to be inhaled. winter season has not even begun in the capital city, the air is filled with smog already. Particulate matter, when mixed with smoke from automobiles, is choking Delhi enough. During Diwali, the pollution goes up by more than 30% due to bursting of firecrackers. It is said that one big firecracker can produce up to 250cc of smoke. It also cause water contamination and acid rains and results in air pollution that creates carcinogenic sulphur compounds and airborne arsenic effect.

Harmful gases in the air

Busting of crackers emit nitrogen dioxide, Sulphur dioxide and matter which are so minute that they have the ability to get lodged in the lung and can even enter the bloodstream. Patients with asthma and other respiratory disorders report discomfort and worsening of conditions during Diwali. Which are dangerous to health and cause lot of health problems like asthma attacks, heart attacks, Chronic bronchitis, Common Cold etc.

Global warming

Oxides and dioxides of sulphur and nitrogen are released during the burning of firecrackers. These gases are very harmful to human health and also to the environment. It causes Global warming and Global warming has many harmful effects on our health.

Land pollution

Garbage

The main problem that comes to our sight is the garbage that is lying on the roads after Diwali. This garbage is garbage which is full of chemicals and it is effective on people’s health that lives near to the garbage. would you like to see garbage all over when you wake up on the day of Diwali? The crackers bursting not only pollutes by contaminating the air, but also pollutes the air.

Noise pollution

Noise pollution is as dangerous as air pollution. It not also affects human beings but also more dangerous for animals around as they have ears which are more sensitive than that of humans. Also, animals are not able to communicate they tend to get confused and terrified seeing the light changing and listening to the sound of crackers. Standard level set for humans is 60 decibel. Increase in that will cause various problems like restlessness, Fidgetiness, High Blood Pressure, Anger, Heart Attacks, Sleep Disturbance, Impulsiveness, temporary or permanent hearing loss.

Every year a lot of cases are reported in delhi related to burn injuries, as well as 20% to 40%, increased cases of wheezing, respiratory diseases, exacerbation of bronchial asthma and bronchitis patients have been reported during and after Diwali.

Therefore, the government took up this issue seriously and enacted various legislations, including the Supreme Court giving out certain judgments and orders to curb this increasing level of pollution.

Laws and regulations

Over the years, none of us paid attention to any of the laws restricting over the kind of crackers which can be sold and manufactured because of this none of the laws restricting the use of crackers have been implemented strictly so far which led to lack of awareness among citizens.

  1. As per the “Environment Protection Act, 1986 and the Environment Protection Rule, 1986 and 1999 (amendment) rules”;
  2. Rule 89 lays down “The manufacture, sale or use of firecrackers generating noise level which exceed 125 dB (AI) or 145 dB(C) at 4 meters distance from the point of bursting shall be prohibited.”

To Determine dB (decibel) level an expertise is required and it must be the manufacturer to follow to and duty of the citizen not to buy crackers which violate this provision.

Bursting crackers is against DPSP (DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES OF STATE POLICIES)

As the state swears to protect the environment under Article 48A. It talks about Protection and improvement of environment and safeguarding of forests and wildlife. The State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country.

How to identify such crackers which violate laws and Regulations?

The Explosives Rules 2008 (Rule 14) STATES that “every manufacturer shall on the box of each firecracker shall mention details of its chemical content, sound level and that it satisfies requirements laid down by the chief controller” Hence, one must keep in mind the above provisions mentioned before purchasing any firecrackers to ensure highest standards of safety.

Prohibition on sale of imported crackers

The Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Ministry of Commerce & Industry has banned the illegal imports, possession and sale of firecrackers of foreign origin. The manufacture, possession, sale etc of any explosive containing sulphur or sulphate mixed with any chlorate is banned in the country.

Central Government recently instructed the state governments to take action against the Chinese crackers sale and ordered a strict crackdown on any such sale, as these crackers are more harmful and contain certain chemicals which are beyond the permissible limits of safe standards.

Legal arguments against banning crackers permanently

Customary Practices and Right to profess one’s religion

The bursting of firecrackers has been a Hindu tradition for years and suddenly implementing a ban on it permanently might hurt their religious sentiments. Fireworks have been an inherent part of the Diwali celebrations and not just Hindus, but people of other religion equally participate in this festival.

Instead of banning the fireworks, there could be measures which can be taken for reformation to lessen the amount of these crackers that could be burnt in a single day. Some areas near hospitals and old age homes should have firecracker prohibition rules which should be strictly implemented.

Might violate right to profession

Right to profession is a fundamental right guaranteed by Indian constitution under article 19 which says everyone have equal right to practise any Profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business subject to reasonable restriction.

The ban ordered at a very late stage without adequate notice puts in jeopardy the firecracker industry which includes wholesalers, retailers and many small vendors which by some estimates may stand to lose business around Rs 1,000 crore. A report in Business Standard noted that the judgment will immediately affect around 2,500 shops, close to 250 big and small wholesalers and deal a cruel blow off to the Rs 4,000-crore industry there will be a great problem of unemployment because of this ban. It is also unclear whether the spike in Delhi’s pollution levels is caused by Diwali crackers alone. An IIT Kanpur study in 2016 found that “the total PM10 emission load in the city” to be 143 tonnes per day and according to a The Indian Express report, “listed the top contributor as road dust (56%) and vehicles (20%), followed by domestic fuel burning and industrial point sources.” Also included among pollutants’ list are construction dust, municipal solid waste burning and diesel generator sets.

This is not to forget stubble burning in neighboring Punjab and Haryana where 35 million tonnes of crop will contribute anywhere between 12 to 60 percent of Delhi’s air pollution.

Whether there should be a complete ban on crackers in Delhi or not?

Supreme Court with a petition to take strict action against the rise in level of air pollution, which has led to dangerous levels of toxic in the environment, which is directly affecting the youngest of the population.

The Supreme Court dismissed this petition which aimed at putting a complete ban on bursting of crackers on Diwali or designating a particular area for bursting crackers. The SC said that such a blanket ban would be lethal and would cause an unnecessary chaos in the society. The court, however, has directed the government to spread awareness about the hazardous and poisonous effects of crackers.

“Prevention of Envn. & Sound Pollution v. Union of India”

In this landmark case of 2005 the supreme court laid down some guidelines related to crackers and other problems of sound pollution.

  • The Department of Explosives divide the firecrackers into two categories:
  • Sound emitting firecrackers
  • Colour/light emitting firecrackers.
  • There shall be a blanket ban on bursting sound emitting firecrackers between 10p.m. and 6a.m. It is not necessary to impose restrictions as to time on bursting of light emitting crackers.
  • Every manufacturer shall on the box of each firecracker mention details as of its chemical contents and that it satisfies the requirement as laid down by Explosive Department.

Cancellation or suspension of licenses issued under explosive act

The mechanism of the law in this regard is very clear. Rule number 118 of the Explosive Rules,2008, framed under the Explosives Act, 1884, provides for the manner in which licenses issued under the Explosives Act to store and sell explosives could be suspended or canceled. Sub-Rule (5) thereof specifically confers on the Central Government a power to suspend or cancel a license if it considers that it is in public interest. This provision also makes it clear that an opportunity to hear the licensee could be dispensed with if the Central Government considers that in public interest. This Court finds that the grave air quality situation in NCR is one such case, where this Court, can intervene and suspend the licenses to store and sell fireworks in the NCR. We direct the Central Government to:

  1. Suspend all such licenses as permit sale of fireworks, wholesale and retail within the territory of NCR.
  2. The suspension shall remain in force till further orders of this Court.
  3. No such licenses shall be granted or renewed till further orders.

Conclusion

Bursting of firecrackers has been a tradition in our society which is now proving to be dangerous for the future generations. Article 21 of the Indian constitution-Right to Life, is a basic human right and subsequently a Fundamental Right provided to Indian Citizens, and to breathe clean air constitutes the same. Therefore, it is necessary to exercise certain standard and cautions in this situation and one must give precedence to various rights in terms of their necessity. Total eradication on the sale and manufacturing of crackers is not the most efficient solution – it does not fully accomplish its aim of reducing pollution. The high demand for crackers and easy supply from neighboring states make the enforcement of prohibition futile. In such circumstances, the more feasible method of reducing the use of crackers would be regulation through taxation coupled with the policies of harmful effects burning crackers education. In the long run, these policies will decrease the demand for crackers and in doing so we will achieve the aim of reducing the use of crackers.

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