The Supreme Court has denied the application filed by fireworks manufacturers, who sought permission to produce improved crackers with 30% less emission. They proposed using barium salts in green crackers. However, the same ingredient was prohibited by the court in October 2018 due to its adverse health implications.
The bench, comprising justices AS Bopanna and MM Sundresh, denied the application stating, “We have not permitted the application. Any violation of our earlier order (imposing the ban) will be regulated according to our previous orders.” The application also requested lifting the ban on joint crackers, also known as ‘laris’.
The Supreme Court had previously imposed the ban on crackers in October 2018, responding to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by three minors led by Arjun Gopal. They expressed concern that the ban was being ignored by manufacturers, resulting in crackers infiltrating the city, raising questions about the enforcement of the order.
Last week, senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, representing the petitioners, asked the court to prioritise the issue. The bench responded, “We can only say Happy Diwali.”
This order is restricted to the application by manufacturers represented under the Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers Association (TANFAMA). They had agreed to adhere to the green cracker formulations approved by two expert bodies, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the National Environment Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), and regulated by the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO).
The Centre had supported the application, suggesting that the 2018 ban was only applicable for that year’s Diwali. However, the bench responded, “What is good for one year is good for all time.” The Centre argued that barium is not banned and expert research indicates that improved, or green, crackers would reduce pollution.
Additional solicitor general (ASG) Aishwarya Bhati, representing the Union government, informed the court that trials for improved joint crackers are ongoing and will be provided by CSIR-NEERI to the government soon.
The court expressed deep concern over the easy availability of firecrackers despite the ban and directed the Delhi police to submit a report detailing the steps taken to enforce its orders. A report submitted by the Delhi Police revealed that 926 cases of sale/storage were registered from 2016 until August this year, leading to 740 arrests. Additionally, over 2600 individuals were caught for bursting crackers over the past seven years.
The court instructed the police, “What is the point in taking action after it happens. There must be a willingness on your part to identify the source.” The court further directed Bhati to ensure no permanent or temporary licenses are issued for selling crackers in the capital and the national capital region (NCR).
Sankaranarayanan informed the court that the new formulation proposed as green or improved crackers by the Centre contains barium salts, which can adversely affect human health leading to breathing disorders.