The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to impose a nationwide ban on sale of firecrackers in its verdict. The apex court said that only "low-polluting" 'green firecrackers' that are within the permitted decibel limits and emission norms will be allowed to be sold. The court, additionally, banned the online sale of firecrackers and banned e-commerce sites from selling them.
Not only that, the Supreme Court also imposed timing restrictions on burning crackers during celebrations. For Diwali, people will be allowed to burn crackers between 8pm and 10pm. However, on New Year and Christmas, the period has been further narrowed down to from 11:45pm to 12:15pm.
All the states have also been asked by the court to explore feasibility of community cracker bursting during festivals. The Supreme Court's verdict was pronounced by a bench comprising Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan. The mandate comes as a response to a plea that sought a ban on manufacturing and sale of firecrackers to curb air pollution.
Although what are 'green crackers' is a bit contentious. While it is "less-polluting" is well understood, what goes into making a green crackers isn't. Accoring to reports, last year scientists were asked to develop zero-pollution firecrackers. Additionally, Sri Kaliswari Fireworks Private Limited in Sivakasi had started experimenting on developing eco-friendly firecrackers.
The Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers Association (TANFAMA) had earlier said that the government must help the manufacturers with a formula for green crackers. However, it is not clear how long the entire process may take.
On October 9 last year, the Supreme Court temporarily banned the sale of firecrackers ahead of Diwali. The court refused to relax the ban and dismissed a plea by traders who sought permission to sell crackers for at least a day or two before Diwali. The court had said then that the ban on firecrackers was an experiment to observe its impact on the pollution levels.
The Supreme Court had also earlier said that while deciding on firecrackers it is necessary to take into account several aspects, including the livelihood of firecracker manufacturers as well as the right to health of over 1.3 billion people.
The Tuesday verdict comes fifteen days ahead of Diwali.
(Edited by Anwesha Madhukalya)