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Friday, December 03, 2021

Activists miffed over Supreme Court order, say no firecracker can be ‘green’

No alternative but to comply with top court's directive setting aside cracker ban: Pollution board chief

Written by Sweety Kumari | Kolkata |
November 3, 2021 3:16:40 am
The top court said the revision petitions be decided and disposed of by a division bench of the high court at the earliest and preferably, within six months from the date of receipt of its order. (File)

“THE National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) has defined components of green crackers. There will also be a QR code, once it is scanned you can see the component used to manufacture the crackers. I am chairman of a regulatory authority… The Supreme Court order is mandatory. We have no alternative but to comply,” Kalyan Rudra, chairman, West Bengal Pollution Control Board, said on Tuesday.

However, a section of environmentalists have claimed that no fireworks can be “green crackers” as these are all harmful for the environment in some way, depending upon their component.

These reactions came a day after the Supreme Court on Monday overturned the Calcutta High Court’s blanket ban on firecrackers and instead allowed green crackers in areas where the air quality is “moderate”. As per the Supreme Court’s order, crackers (green crackers) made using relatively less-polluting materials can be used during the festive season starting this week.

NEERI defines green firecrackers as “improved fireworks/firecrackers, Fireworks/firecrackers made with reduction in size of shell, elimination of ash usage etc., reduced usage of raw materials in the compositions, of uniform acceptable quality, and/or use of additives as dust suppressants to reduce emissions with specific reference to particulate matter(PM) [SO2 and NO2 leading to a minimum of PM reduction of 30 per cent and a minimum of PM reduction of 20 per cent and rest 10 per cent of gaseous emission (mass of gases emitted based on composition) or more reduction of gaseous emission (mass of gases emitted based on composition). All these reduction shall be based on when compared with conventional composition for a given category of crackers/fireworks.”

“We have only heard of green crackers. We have been working on the ground for years…how can fireworks be eco-friendly? The latest Supreme Court order is ambiguous and is far from the ground reality,” said Subhas Datta, an environmental activist.

“Complying with this order of the Supreme Court is definitely a challenge for the authorities concerned and secondly it is also not good for the environment. Ultimately people will burst crackers and say it is “green cracker,” said another environmentalist who did not wish to be named.

From October 25-31, 2,824.680 kg of fireworks have been seized by the Kolkata police. In the past five days, 12 persons have been arrested for selling banned firecrackers. Since September 10, 3,935 kg firecrackers have been seized. So far, 13 persons have been arrested.

On Saturday, Kolkata police commissioner Soumen Mitra had instructed his officers to implement the ban imposed by Calcutta Highcourt on firecrackers, on Saturday.

“Who will ensure that the cracker which was burnt was green or not ? NEERI scientists have set up some guidelines. But it is not practical to implement it. In the name of green cracker people will actually be burning red crackers. Infact, police are not expert on this just through visual appearance one cannot differentiate between green or red crackers. How will police prove that someone was bursting red cracker or green? The order is not environment-friendly and we are not happy with judgement. We can express our unhappiness,” Dutta added. As per experts only Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) approved crackers are being considered as “green crackers” and no manufacturing unit of Bengal has that approval.

The Calcutta High Court had banned all firecrackers, including green crackers, for the upcoming festive occasions such as Diwali, Kali Puja, Chhath Puja, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. The Supreme Court on Monday set aside the Calcutta high court order. The Supreme Court clarified that there is no total ban on the use of firecrackers and only those fireworks that contain Barium salts are prohibited. A bench of Justices M R Shah and A S Bopanna, however, said that no authority can be permitted the violation of the directions issued by it and allow banned firecrackers “under the guise of celebrations”.

“I don’t think its possible to ensure compliance on the ground . None of the manufacturers in Bengal have green certification,” claimed a senior officer of the Kolkata Police. According to the police, it is more difficult for them to distinguish between the fake and original stickers defining “green cracker”.

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