Can’t let Delhi choke year after year: SC

Posted on Oct 11 2017 - 8:10pm by admin
Attempt To Curb Diwali Pollution In Delhi-NCR
The Supreme Court reimposed on Monday a ban on sale of firecrackers in the national capital region ahead of Diwali, set to be celebrated on October 19, in view of concerns over pollution caused by smoke and chemicals released into the air.The order, however, does not prohibit bursting of crackers -which means that people with last year’s stock can use firecrackers. But the ban on sale is clearly intended to drastically reduce the use of firecrackers in Delhi and surrounding areas. The ban will be in force till October 31.A bench of Justices A K Sikri, A M Sapre and Ashok Bhushan restored SC’s Novem ber 2016 order banning sale of crackers in NCR and put this September’s order -which allowed limited sale but banned imports from other states -in abeyance till October-end.

The SC had passed last ye ar’s order after Diwali in view of the high level of pollution, saying the city was “smogged“ into an environmental emergency of unseen proportions. The ban continued till September 12 when the court modified its order and allowed limited sale of firecrackers but banned import from other states.

While the court had in its September order said there was a need for a balanced and graded approach to controlling pollution rather than radical steps, the proceedings took a different turn on Monday . The bench noted there were several factors contributing to a pollution crisis in the city and the extent of the adverse impact of bursting of firecrackers needs to be ascertained.

“We are of the view that the order suspending the licences should be given one chance to test itself in order to find out as to whether there would be positive effect of this suspension, particularly during the Diwali period. Insofar as adverse effects of burning of crackers during Diwali are concerned, those have been witnessed year after year. The air quality deteriorates abysmally and alarmingly and the city chokes. It leads to closing the schools and the authorities are compelled to take various measures on emergent basis, when faced with health emergency situation,“ the bench said.

“This very situation had occurred on the very next morning after Diwali in the year 2016. It resulted in passing the order dated November 11, 2016.This 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 judgement dated September 12, 2017 passed by this court should be made effective only from November 1,“ it said.

Holding that there is “virtually a consensus“ in society that crackers should not be burnt in Diwali with govern ments, NGOs and others carrying a campaign against them, the court said, “Irony is that when causes are brought in the court, there is resistance from certain quarters.“

Delhi police spokesperson, Dependra Pathak, meanwhile, appealed to people to adhere to the rules. “We will start prosecuting violators as soon as possible,“ said Pathak.

The court had previously held that there was no conclusive proof that extremely poor quality of air in Delhi last winter, which pushed SC to pass a ban order, was the result only of bursting of fireworks around Diwali.

Times View

This paper has been at the forefront of the campaign for cleaner air. We, therefore, welcome the seriousness with which the Supreme Court is seized of the matter. But we wish the re-imposition of the ban had come earlier, instead of so close to Diwali. It’ll affect thousands of traders and shopkeepers. What are they to do with the inventories they are already carrying or the orders they have placed and cannot cancel at the last minute? We should spare a thought for them during this festive season.
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