The Supreme Court on Friday rejected a plea seeking to allow the use of barium in green firecrackers , reported Live Law.
The division bench of Justices AS Bopanna and MM Sundresh also refused to interfere with the Delhi government’s decision to ban the manufacture, storage, sale, and bursting of all firecrackers ahead of Diwali, reported PTI.
The court passed the order on a plea filed by the firecracker manufacturers association seeking to lift the prohibitions on green firecrackers in the national capital. In 2018, the Supreme Court had partially banned firecrackers in Delhi during Diwali to curb air pollution but allowed the use of green crackers.
The air quality in the national capital deteriorates to “very poor” or “severe” categories after Diwali as pollution from firecrackers releases PM 2.5 particulate and heavy metals such as barium, strontium and aluminium.
PM 2.5 are very small particles usually found in smoke and can cause coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and difficulty in breathing. High episodic air pollution events such as dueing Diwali nights in Delhi set off higher all-cause mortality, according to air pollution scientists and doctors.
To counter the menace of air pollution, the Delhi government in 2021 had issued a blanket ban on firecrackers. The ban included green firecrackers that are believed to reduce hazardous emissions and do not contain harmful elements such as lithium, arsenic, barium and lead. They also release water vapour and do not allow dust particles to rise.
One of the respondents in the case had told the Supreme Court that the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute have “in a significant development” created firecrackers with reduced quantities of barium, reported Live Law.
However, the court said that barium cannot be used as it was earlier a content in crackers. The bench said that it should be considered if barium can be allowed with the new formulations. “Earlier orders were passed in a different context, where substantial research had not been done,” the court said. “Now research institutes have come up with new formulations.”
On Friday, the Supreme Court told the authorities and the Delhi Police to regulate violations of the ban on firecrackers in the national capital, reported The Hindu. The Supreme Court also told the police that filing cases against persons bursting crackers may not solve the health and environmental risks it poses.
This came after senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, representing the petitioners seeking the ban, said that crackers were still being sold in Delhi especially ahead of the Diwali season despite the ban.
The Delhi Police informed the Supreme Court that 926 cases of sale or storage have been registered since 2016 till August this year. They have also arrested 740 persons and rounded up more than 2,600 others in the last seven years for bursting crackers.
“What is the point in taking action after it happens,” the bench said, reported the Hindustan Times. “There must be a will on your part to find the source where it is coming from.”
On September 11, the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi had announced that it was reimposing the ban on the production, sale, storage and use of all types of firecrackers in the National Capital Region as part of its plan to control pollution levels in the winter months. This is the third consecutive year that the Delhi government has imposed a ban on the sale and use of firecrackers.
Two days later, the court rejected Bharatiya Janata Party MP Manoj Tiwari’s plea seeking to lift the ban, reported The Indian Express. “Locally, if there is a problem, if it is banned, then it is banned… If a government feels it is to be banned, it is banned, that’s all,” the court said.