Ahead of Diwali, the Supreme Court Tuesday came out with a series of directions regulating the sale and use of fireworks in Delhi-NCR, saying that the health of the people is “more important”. Disposing of an application filed by fireworks’ manufacturers based in Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu, a bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta said “The health of people in Delhi and NCR must take precedence over any commercial or other interest of the applicant, or any of the permanent licensees and, therefore, a graded regulation is necessary which would eventually result in a prohibition.”
Allowing partial relief to those holding permanent licences, the court modified its November, 2016 order suspending all such licences and allowed them to sell fireworks subject to compliance with the court’s directions and the Explosives Rules. The bench, however, added that this might require a review after Diwali — depending on the air quality at the time.
The court also fixed the maximum number of temporary licences that could be granted for sale of the materials in Delhi at 500, and in NCR at 50 per cent of what was allowed in 2016. Referring to submissions that 50 lakh kg of fireworks were already available in Delhi-NCR, the court said this was enough for Diwali and Dussehra, and banned the transport of more fireworks into these areas.
The court pulled up the Central Pollution Control Board for failing to comply with its order to study and prepare a report on the harmful effects of materials used in the making of fireworks. The order also noted that the “steps so far taken by the Government of NCT of Delhi (to prevent air pollution during Diwali) are limited to issuing directions, which is merely paperwork”.