In November previous year, the court had stopped the sale of fireworks within the National Capital Region, which includes Delhi and nearby areas, following a petition flagging the alarming rise in pollution levels after Diwali.
On November 11, 2016, the Supreme Court had ordered the suspension of all licences permitting the sale of fireworks, wholesale and retail, within the NCR till further orders. With the SC banning the sale of firecrackers in the Delhi-NCR till November 1, can Delhiites breathe a sigh of relief?
The data remain inconclusive with a study by IIT, Kanpur, finding that levels of pollution can be higher than on Diwali- both before and after the festival is celebrated. It has been done in line with a previous plan by the Supreme Court to lift the ban on firecrackers after a review of ambient air quality post-Diwali. "This (decision) will play a crucial role in regulating air pollution in the region and reduce the impact on human health", said Ajay Mathur, Director General, TERI. How the order will be implemented in practice remains to be seen, because it does not ban setting off firecrackers - meaning that those who have already procured them can still light them. It had also cut temporary licences of the states of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh by 50%. The Bench, in its judgment, had also opined that a graded and balanced approach would be needed to reduce and eliminate the air pollution in the capital caused due to firecrackers.
Diwali, traditionally ushered in with the setting off of firecrackers mainly by India's majority Hindu community, falls on October 19 this year.
The central pollution body - Central Pollution Control Board - supported the petitioners and wanted the ban be restored. "Many people will buy firecrackers in bulk and maybe even sell them to friends and neighbours "in black" - without setting up an official shop". The ban was imposed in 2016 a year ago and was lifted temporarily around 20 days back.
The ban is effective immediately and lasts until November 1.
Pollution levels in Delhi and NCR rose to unsafe levels following the bursting of firecrackers during 2016 Diwali.