New Delhi: Ever since the Supreme Court reinstated its ban on the sale of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR before Diwali to prevent toxic haze, there has been a huge debate about it. Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan who welcomed the order on Twitter was trolled so badly that he deleted his tweet. Environmentalists and Delhi’s top doctors welcomed the ban and defined the growing levels of air pollution as a public health emergency. But there are some who believe that apex court’s order to ban firecrackers is a case of judicial overreach. Commenting on this, a senior advocate of Supreme Court said that we must realise that the top court is the ultimate custodian of the Constitution and Constitutional rights conferred on the citizens, and the right to life is sacrosanct. “If the Supreme Court feels that the crackers are going to affect the right to life of millions of people living in Delhi, then the court’s decision to ban sale of firecrackers is fully justified,” said Dushyant Dave, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court. Another advocate Anirudh Sharma welcomed the ban but was of the view that this might dampen the festive spirits and spoke in favour of necessary regulations on the manufacturing and sales of firecrackers, the toxicity levels of which are relatively higher.
Under the explosive act, the court can ban the manufacture of certain kind of explosives, along with its distribution and sale. Crackers should not be banned but should be regulated like in the case of tobacco. The crackers which make the most noise and are highly toxic should be banned, suggests Anirudh Sharma, Advocate, Supreme Court.
Dr Anupam Sibal, Pediatrician, Apollo Hospitals also gave his opinion on the cracker ban issue, pointing out the importance of looking at the concerns of air pollution at large. “We have to look at a larger picture. It is not about crackers and not about one Diwali night, it is about the highly toxic environment we are living in today,” said Mr Sibal.
Last year, Delhi’s air measured 999 on Air Quality Index, while the safe limit to breathe is 150. I am highly worried what this might do to the health of citizens as no data is available on what will happen a decade or two later when people are exposed to this kind of toxic air. If there’s a victim during Diwali, it’s those with pulmonary diseases, children and elderly. It is the responsibility of every citizen to provide a healthy environment by limiting all sources of air pollution, the doctor added.
Adding to what Dr Sibal said, actress Dia Mirza also stated that during Diwali, the ill effects of air pollution gets compounded so drastically that they been proven in the past to be gravely hazardous and injurious to our lives, especially the children and elderly.
Cracker ban is just a scratch on the surface to curb air pollution, which is not limited to Delhi-NCR but extends across the nation. I think firecrackers should be banned throughout the year and people should be educated on the hazardous effects of air pollution, the actress recommended.
While commenting on if the ban on crackers seems practical, advocate Dushyant Dave said that it is not possible to fully implement the judgement of Supreme Court. What will authorities do if people in Delhi-NCR buy crackers from other sources and light them up? Nothing! While the Supreme Court’s order is well-intentioned, the prudence of the judgment and its ability to achieve its aim is highly debatable,” added Mr Dave.
However, to ensure that Supreme Court’s order to ban the sale of firecrackers is implemented properly, the police officials in Delhi-NCR will form special patrol teams and conduct vehicle checks till Diwali. A number of public figures and politicians have also come forward in support of the ban and urged people to celebrate green Diwali.
After Diwali in November last year, dense smog in Delhi had forced authorities to close schools and ban construction activities. That year the city struggled with its worst air pollution for two decades and air quality was categorised as “severe”. Schools had to be shut down and hospitals reported a rise in cases of respiratory distress, with elderly and children being the worst hit.