“To err is human; to forgive, divine.”
Keeping the health of citizens and a steadily deteriorating air quality in mind, the Supreme Court has suspended the sale of firecrackers in Delhi and NCR till November 1. This means that firecrackers won’t be legally sold in Delhi and its surrounding areas during and after Diwali and the apex court has put to test whether a Diwali without firecrackers this year will have a “positive effect” or not on the health of citizens and environment. It is a step in the right direction that the court has taken to deal with alarming air pollution levels in the national capital. A sustained focus on tackling the menace of firecrackers is the need of the hour. In its 20-page order, the top court has pointed out that “burning of these firecrackers during Deepavali (Diwali) in 2016 had shot up pm [particulate matter]levels by three times, making Delhi the worst city in the world, insofar as air pollution is concerned.” A bench comprising Justices MB Lokur and Deepak Gupta asked the Centre and concerned authorities to consider encouraging display of fireworks through community participation rather than individual bursting of crackers. The SC order assumes significance as the court observed that “the air quality deteriorates abysmally and alarmingly and the city chokes thereby” due to the adverse effects of bursting of fire crackers. There is no denying that the ban will play a crucial role in regulating air pollution in the region and reduce the impact on human health. The ban, if implemented properly, will definitely ensure that the levels of air pollutants do not reach as high as they did last year during Diwali. The ban on sale of firecrackers will be a big relief for not only human being but also the canines and birds which inhabit the human settlement.
The people of Delhi and surrounding areas might get to enjoy a relatively cleaner Diwali this year, shopkeepers and sellers are sure to feel the pinch. The order effectively means that no firecrackers will be available for purchase before the festival, which falls on October 19. Yet, one feels it will be tough to implement apex court’s decision and people will find ways to obtain firecrackers. There is no ban on sale of crackers online, which points to a massive loophole in the Supreme Court’s verdict. Delhi BJP spokesperson Tejinder Singh Bagga explained, “the court has only banned the sale of firecrackers…not on buying or bursting them.” So Bagga plans to distribute crackers worth Rs. 50,000 to slum children in Harinagar.
All said and done, the Supreme Court’s experiment of banning the sale of firecrackers is worth trying given the post-Diwali scenario of the past years. Taking a cue from the Supreme Court order, Maharashtra minister Ramdas Kadam has pushed for a similar move in Maharashtra. The state pollution control should make efforts to discourage people from bursting crackers during Diwali. It would have been a step in the right direction if the top court along with the sale had banned bursting of firecrackers. Citizens, in the name of festival, cannot be allowed to have free run and cause massive damage to human being, animals and environment.