SC flip-flops on firecracker ban as no credible study done on its environmental impact
SC flip-flops on firecracker ban as no credible study done on its environmental impactBy Amit Anand Choudhary, TNN|Oct 09, 2017, 09.50 PM IST NEW DELHI: The petition seeking ban on firecrackers in NCR has been pending in the Supreme Court since 2015 but the court's approach had been inconsistent on the issue. The first order to ban its sale was modified allowing limited sale and finally the ban was re-imposed this year during Diwali.
The flip-flops on the part of apex court is mainly because there is no credible and reliable study done so far by an Indian agency on adverse impact of bursting of firecrackers on environment and there are contradictory findings in the studies done by private agencies. The court, which had in 2015 turned down a plea to ban firecrackers during Diwali, had to intervene in light of alarming pollution level after 2016 Diwali and suspended all licenses of sellers of firecrackers.
"The capital was smogged into an environmental emergency of unseen proportions," court had said while justifying its interim order to ban firecrackers. It had also directed Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to conduct a study and file a report within three months on the harmful effects of the materials used in fireworks. The court had said that it would review its interim order after going through the report.
But CPCB failed to comply with the order and told the court that firecrackers did not come within its jurisdiction and the task should be entrusted to another government age ncy Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization (PESO). As the government agencies did not produce any credible and empirical study on the issue, the court was virtually forced to modify its ban order and allowed sale of firecrackers on September 12.
"What is necessary now is to correlate air pollution with the sale and bursting of fireworks in Delhi and the NCR. There is no doubt that the air we breathe gets polluted with the bursting of fireworks. The extent of air pollution caused by bursting fireworks is not clear in the absence of empirical data - it could be severe or it could be marginal, but it is there," the bench had said.
"It is astonishing that the CPCB has not conducted the study and prepared a report as directed. Apart from the fact that the CPCB has not conducted any study, even otherwise, no standards have been laid down by the CPCB which could give any indication of the acceptable and permissible limit of constituent metals or chemicals used in fireworks and released in the air, beyond which their presence would be harmful or dangerous," the court had noted..
It had appointed a high level committee consisting of representatives from CPCB, National Physical Laboratory, Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences, IIT Kanpur, Fire Development and Research Centre,National Environment Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) and scientists from the State Pollution Control Boards to conduct a study on adverse health impact on people due to bursting fireworks during Dussehra and Diwali. The committee headed by CPCB chairman was asked to submit report by end of this year.
While reimposing 2016 order, the court said that ban order should be tested at least for one Diwali season to find out whether snapping the supply chain of firecrackers resulted in better air quality in comparison to last year situation.
"This order (2016 order) prevailed during the year but the impact and effect of this order remains to be tested on Diwali days. Going by these considerations, we are of the opinion that the judgment dated September 12, 2017 passed by this Court should be made effective only from November 1, 2017," it said.
(This article was originally published in The Times of India)Read more onSupreme CourtNCRenvironmentDiwaliCPCBban on firecrackers
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