SC holds firm on Delhi cracker ban, says don't communalise it

The Supreme Court banned the sale of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR region until November 1, with a goal to reduce pollution caused by firecrackers on Diwali, but using a loophole, the Gurgaon administration has permitted residents who have already bought firecrackers to burst them on Diwali. The interim application came up for hearing before a bench headed by Justice A K Sikri.

The top court had recently imposed the ban on fireworks until November 1, saying it wanted to test if it would make a difference to Delhi's air quality, ranked among the worst in the world. The apex court said its last month's order, temporarily lifting the stay and permitting the sale of firecrackers, would be made effective only from 1st November, 12 days after the "festival of lights". The court then banned the sale of firecrackers, but relaxed the restrictions on September 12 this year after a plea from fireworks manufacturers. The court, in its last year's direction, had suspended all licenses which permits sale of fireworks, wholesale and retail within the territory of NCR till further orders. They sought permission of the apex court to sell crackers for at least a day or two before Diwali. "After Diwali we will take stock of the situation", the court said.

"Banning crackers on Diwali is like banning Christmas trees on Christmas and goats on Bakr-Eid. Celebrate this Diwali with Diyas & love". "It will be good if a similar decision of banning firecrackers in private places is implemented in Mumbai region", Sumaira Abdulali, the anti-noise pollution activist and founder of Awaaz Foundation, said.

The apex court in 2005 had also directed that there should be a complete ban on bursting sound-emitting firecrackers between 10 pm and 6 am.

The other advocates, seeking a relaxation on the ban, said the firecracker industry was highly regulated and thousands of people employed in it, besides Diwali was a cultural event irrespective of the community.

Vanessa Coleman