SC modifies order on firecracker sale in Delhi-NCR

Supreme Court lifts ban on sale of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR directs cops to remain vigilant

Supreme Court lifts ban on sale of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR, directs cops to remain vigilant

Now firecrackers would be available in Delhi NCR, including neighbouring states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, in the coming festive season to celebrate Dussehara and Diwali. It also 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.

Also, the Court appealed the Delhi Government and the other authorities for the encouraging of fireworks display through community participation rather than the individual bursting.

It temporarily modified its earlier order suspending the permanent licences for sale of fire crackers in NCR, saying a complete ban would be an "extreme step" to curb pollution caused by them. "It seems to us that the steps so far taken by Government of NCT of Delhi are limited to issuing directions, which is merely paperwork", a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said.

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"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 court said that those granted licenses will be permitted to possess and sell only 50% of the quantity permitted in 2017 and it will substantially reduce over the next couple of years.

"The suspension of permanent licences, as directed by the November 11 order, is lifted for the time being". Also, licenses will be reviewed after Diwali depending pon the quality of air between the post-Diwali and after Diwali.

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As a cautionary, the court said: "There must be a concerted effort to ensure awareness and sensitization of the people in Delhi and NCR, particularly children, of the health hazards of indiscriminate use of fireworks". In 2016, a total of 968 temporary licences were issued for a period of 24 days in Delhi.

The Bench further instructed the police and district administration to ensure firecrackers are not burst in "silence zones", an area covering 100 metres around hospitals, educational institutions, courts and religious places.

The order came on a plea of firecracker manufacturers.

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The Bench directed the Delhi Police to allow only up to 500 temporary licences this year. However, it has given liberty to the licensees to transport them outside Delhi and the NCR.

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