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SC refuses to ban firecrackers, manufacturers question the very logic of pollution and health impacts

The Supreme Court asked the Centre and concerned agencies to launch publicity campaigns in the media on the harmful impact of firecrackers during the festival season.

Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai | Updated: October 28, 2015 6:27 pm
fireworks, fireworks ban, supreme court fireworks ban In this Oct. 22, 2015 photo, people watch fireworks before burning an effigy of demon king Ravana, marking the end of Dussehra festival in Hyderabad. (Source: AP)

The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to order a blanket ban of fireworks during Diwali on a plea by three infants. It reiterated its earlier ruling that firecrackers will be prohibited between 10 pm and 6 am.

However, the court expressed its displeasure over the central government’s failure to implement a previous order to sensitise the public on the ill effects and pollution of bursting of crackers. The court asked the Centre and concerned agencies to launch publicity campaigns in the media on the harmful impact of firecrackers during the festival season.

WATCH VIDEO: SC Refuses To Ban Firecrackers On Diwali

The opposition to the ban has been quite stiff, especially in Tamil Nadu. While Arulmigu Sri Ayyappan Sangam, a religious organisation based in Sivakasi opposed the idea of the ban saying that any restriction on bursting firecrackers on Diwali would affect the traditional and customary rights of Hindus, G Abirupen, leader of the Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers Association (TANFAMA), a body opposed the idea of ban, challenged the very logic of ‘pollution’ itself and the alleged ‘health impacts’ from firecrackers.

READ: SC refuses to ban firecrackers on Diwali, frowns upon Centre’s inaction

Abirupen represents the Rs 6,000 crore worth Sivakasi-based fireworks manufacturing factories. He said the fireworks industry in Tirupati, the largest in the country with over 800 fireworks factories, also supports over five lakh families. He denied reports that children were employed in their factories and claimed that all employees get minimum wages with Employee State Insurance and Provident Fund benefits.

As far as Abirupen and the industry are concerned, the arguments of environmentalists and anti-pollution activists who raised an alarm at the pollution from fireworks during festival days are unfair on several counts.

Speaking to The Indian Express, he raised the following points

If firecrackers makes people sick, how clean are the city skies otherwise?

If you go by the data of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), there is no major difference between the ambient air pollution levels during average normal day and festival days. If you could check the same with local pollution monitors in other cities, for instance, pay
Rs 30 to the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) and get the pollution data of a normal day and Diwali day, you would see that there is not much difference.

How safe are the crackers?

After the ban on Chinese-made firecrackers which contain the substances of banned potassium chloride, locally-made fire crackers are less dangerous and being manufactured with allowed substances such as aluminium, barium and potassium nitrate. Unlike Chinese products, our firecrackers are not friction sensitive too. Moreover, bursting crackers or fireworks during festival season are part of our culture that dates back to centuries.

Only prolonged exposure to pollutants affect your health. Lakhs of people who live in our highly polluted cities are exposed to dangerous levels of pollution on a daily basis — the main reason for health problems is prolonged exposure. Smoke and pollutants from firecrackers that last for a day or two in a year wouldn’t make you sick or ruin your respiratory system.

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  1. B
    Bhanudas Naik
    Oct 28, 2016 at 3:19 am
    I think sc shoulder ban burning crackers otherwise some law should be made like amount or less amount of harmful chemicals should be used because of these today's generation will enjoy and coming generation will suffer these causes so plz do something it is the serious issue of concern
    1. V
      Oct 31, 2016 at 4:25 pm
      Ban all of chemicals that go into the making of these firecrackers.lt;br/gt;If there is a smoking ban in public spaces, I do not see why this pollutant is like wise banned.lt;br/gt;The Supreme court judges are insulated from the noise and the pollution as they live in spaces that are insulated from common people's problems and hence are least sensitive to the case of air, noise and water pollution. lt;br/gt;The Firecracker lobby is a big one , as big as the tobacco lobby or even bigger. By asking the Government to create an awareness program, is easier said than done ! Their naive argument that the cities are anyway polluted , so what if some more is added to it, found favor with the bench.lt;br/gt;Instead of listening to lawyers , the Bench should have set up a panel of eminent scientists , environmentalists , Physicians and ped their learned judgement after studying this report.lt;br/gt;Find out what the policy is in the developed nations. The Government has committed to the UN , IPCC panel on Climate change to reduce emissions by 30 % over the coming years . Has the Court taken cognizance of this, ( this was post the order)lt;br/gt;It is common knowledge the fate of the workers in Sivakasi. By being enrolled in ESI and PF does not break the shackles of a generation of cursed labour , wallowing in a chemical cesspool all their lives.lt;br/gt;So this employment for 4 lakh families is utter hogwash . One wonders when the Sivakasi business of firecrackers started . Was'nt it the match industry that came first. So this story of centuries of fire crackers etc is yet another fable , from the Sivakasi stables.lt;br/gt;Election victory , ODI victory, IPL victory, none of it should have any burning. lt;br/gt;I think a larger Bench should be approached in the matter . For we have a Right To Breathe ! even if it is between 7pm and 9 pm !
      1. H
        ha ha
        Oct 28, 2015 at 10:57 pm
        Why doesn't the Indian Express have any news on the administration's denial of durga puja celebrations in nalhati village in birbhum?
        1. E
          Oct 28, 2015 at 11:06 pm
          Only solution to close down all fire works manufacturing industries if you really mean pollution. But it is selective. What about the same politicians bursting crackers when they win elections or their corrupt criminal leaders are released on bail!! Does it not pollute? Yes it is much less than pollution created by these politicians themselves day and night! All religions burst crackers to celebrate their festive activities and only Deepavali creates pollution ? Double standards!
          1. S
            Oct 28, 2015 at 8:28 pm
            Is this 'Abirupen ' guy nuts??? Crackers don't cause major pollution to cause health effects?? If he has any respiratory illness patient in his home he will come to know what happens to them on Diwali night. Diwali becomes a night of frequent inhalers, supplementary oxygen and even hospitalization. Or as precaution, have to go out to some isolated place on Diwali. But thn it's not Diwali. Don't ban fireworks, but bring a limit to air polluting crackers and enforce it at the source. Diwali is for everyone, don't let some remember it as a nightmare.
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