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Only 'green crackers' to be sold in Delhi-NCR this Diwali, other festivals: SC

Only green crackers to be sold in Delhi-NCR this Diwali, other festivals: SC

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Wednesday clarified that only "green crackers" will be sold in the Delhi-NCR region during this Diwali and other festivals.

It, however, allowed the firecrackers which have already been produced to be sold in other parts of the country this Diwali and other festivals and occasions.

A bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said on the occasion of Gurpurab, which is in November, fireworks shall be allowed for one hour in the morning between 4 am to 5 am and one hour in the evening between 9 pm to 10 pm.

In its October 23 order, the court had ruled that bursting of firecrackers on Diwali and other festivals would be allowed from 8 pm to 10 pm.

"In direction No (ii) where sale of crackers other than reduced emission is banned, it is clarified that this sale is banned in Delhi and NCR... In other areas, the crackers which have already been produced would be allowed to be sold for this Diwali and other festivals and occasions," the bench said.

The bench said with regard to Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and other southern states, the court had already passed the order on October 30, by which it had granted liberty to the authorities of the states concerned to change the timings for the bursting of firecrackers, but the duration should not exceed two hours a day.

The court highlighted that its pan-India directions pertain to community fire cracking, two hours duration for the bursting of crackers, public awareness campaign.

"In addition, the direction regarding the production of crackers with reduced emission and restraining e-commerce websites for selling firecrackers also applies throughout India," the bench said and added that all pan-India directions will be enforced by police authorities.

The bench said the production of crackers with reduced emission (improved crackers and green crackers) is permitted and it would also mean that barium salts in the manufacture of firecrackers will not be used.

The apex court in its October 23 order had said e-commerce websites will be hauled up for contempt of court if they do not adhere to the court's direction, adding that the Station House Officers of police stations concerned will be held liable if banned firecrackers are sold in their area.

In the previous hearing, the advocates appearing for firecracker manufacturers had told the bench that the apex court had never intended to order a complete ban on the bursting of firecrackers on Diwali, but the composition of green crackers was not even finalised.

They had said that in such a scenario, it would be akin to complete ban on firecrackers as green crackers would possibly come in the market only next year.

They had also said that a lot of changes were required to be made in the quality of crackers to make them green and it was impossible to do so within such a short span of time this year.

On October 23, the apex court had said that people in the country can burst firecrackers from 8 pm to 10 pm only on Diwali and other festivals and had allowed the manufacture and sale of just the "green crackers" which have a low emission of light, sound and harmful chemicals.

It had carved out an exception for Christmas and the New Year eve, saying that crackers for these occasions would be burst between 11 55 pm and 12 30 am, since these celebrations start at midnight.

The court had also banned the manufacture, sale and use of joined firecrackers (series crackers or 'laris') saying that they cause "huge air, noise and solid waste problems".

It had said the noise and smoke emission limits of the crackers will have to be approved by the Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation (PESO), a body under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

To curb pollution in Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR), the court had directed the Centre, Delhi government and state governments of NCR to permit community fire-cracking (for Diwali and other festivals), wherever it could be done.

It had said that as directed earlier, the firecrackers generating noise level exceeding 125 dB(AI) of 145dB(C) at four metres distance from the point of bursting shall be banned.

The court had said that those crackers which have already been produced and do not fulfil the permissible conditions "will not be allowed to be sold in Delhi and NCR".

It had directed the police authorities to ensure that there was no sale of banned firecrackers and in case of any violation, the Station House Officer (SHO) of the police station of the area would be held personally liable and this would amount to committing contempt of court.

On October 9 last year, the top court had temporarily banned the sale of firecrackers ahead of Diwali.

Later, the court refused to relax its order while dismissing a plea by traders who had sought permission to sell crackers for at least a day or two before Diwali on October 19, 2017.

The apex court said its ban order during Diwali that year was an experiment to examine its effect on pollution levels in the region.

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