AHEAD OF the festive season of Diwali, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Thursday took suo moto cognisance of the deteriorating air quality in the Tricity and different cities of Punjab and Haryana, and sought information related to the licences for explosives, including fireworks, from the home secretaries of the region. A division bench of Justices Ajay Kumar Mittal and Amit Rawal expressed concern over the rising pollution levels in the Tricity and other areas of the region. Senior advocate Anupam Gupta along with advocate Ashok Kumar was appointed as amicus in the case for assistance in the matter.
“Learned state counsel as well as senior standing counsel for UT Chandigarh are directed to supply the information with regard to issuance of explosives licences whether temporary or permanent,” the division bench said while adjourning the case for Friday.
“There has been a haze over the city for past two days. The air quality is too bad,” observed the bench and sought response from the city administration on the matter. The information has been particularly sought about the Tricity, in addition to other cities of Punjab and Haryana from the authorities.
Justice Rawal on Wednesday had taken note of the rising pollution levels in the region and taking a cue from the recent Supreme Court judgment prohibiting the sale of firecrackers in Delhi and NCR region till November 1, had written to the Chief Justice on the matter. The HC judge cited the pollution levels of various cities, including Amritsar, Ludhiana, Yamuna Nagar and Panchkula, in the communication.
Observing though the “right to breathe is not a fundamental right but akin to it,” Justice Rawal while referring to the use of firecrackers said the entire atmosphere is filled with smoke emitted by bursting of the fire crackers and even after 10 pm a person is not able to move out of the house.
“No doubt, the schools and NGOs have been sensitising the children and the members of society about the aftermath and the worst effect of pollutants being emitted owing to the burning of the crackers. Even it results into burn injuries and the hospitals are flooded with patients having various respiratory problems other than burn injuries,” said Justice Rawal.
Stating that it is not just Delhi where the air quality deteriorates after the Diwali celebration, Justice Rawal said the cities of Punjab and Haryana and particularly the Tricity are also affected by the pollution.
“Being a festive season of Diwali, I am of the view that it is high time for the court to take cognisance of the alarming increase in the air pollution, resulting into a health hazard and particularly to the patients, who have respiratory problems,” Justice Rawal had said while referring the matter to the Chief Justice.
During the hearing of the case, Justice Rawal also made a mention of the story reported by Chandigarh Newsline on Wednesday about the sale of crackers in Chandigarh. The story was about the official efforts to restrict the sale of firecrackers to limited places in the city.