Delhi wakes up to toxic post-Diwali air: SC orders on low emission crackers, designated zones were violated flagrantly

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While the Supreme Court had issued a range of guidelines on the bursting of firecrackers during Diwali in Delhi, these norms were flouted on a large scale. On Thursday, Delhi woke up to air which was filled with smoke and barium (often used in firecrackers, albeit in contravention to the law). This is an indication of a failure on the part of several organisations.

According to K Mariappan, general secretary, Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers Association, the Supreme Court order did not provide any alternatives for either the industry or people who intended to burst firecrackers. He also said that the direction regarding low emission crackers could also not be implemented, as such firecrackers are not defined in the law.

“The court had ordered that only green crackers should be burst. But the court did not specify the legal definition of green crackers. As per my knowledge, green crackers are not yet available in the Indian market,” he said.

A man pedals his cycle amidst smog in the early morning in Delhi. Reuters

A man pedals his cycle amidst smog in the early morning in Delhi. Reuters

Mariappan further said, “As of now, there is no standard to measure emission levels of firecrackers. The prevailing law has standards only to measure noise pollution caused by firecrackers.”

Mahender Pandey, a former scientist with the Central Pollution Control Board said to Firstpost that green firecrackers are not defined in the existing environmental laws. He also confirmed that at present, there is no definition of low emission crackers in the existing environmental laws.

“I think the law should first define green firecrackers for the order to be implemented successfully. Without an adequate legal framework, the order will remain difficult to implement,” he further remarked.

Union minister Harsh Vardhan, in a recent interview, had said that though green firecrackers have been devised, they will not be available in the market this year.

Stating that green firecrackers have been developed by National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), he said, “Obviously, they will not be available for this Diwali. But once granted license by Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation, factories like those in Sivakasi will begin manufacturing.”

Kantilal Sharma, a resident of Noida, said that the failure on the part of the central and state governments in designating places for bursting of firecrackers as per the order also led to flouting of norms.  “The Supreme Court ordered the Centre and states to designate places for community fireworks within one week. However, no such exercise appeared to have been done,” he said.

Sharma further said that due to this, people were seen bursting fireworks all across Delhi.

While the apex court had banned firecrackers which used barium, this order was flouted during  Diwali.

An industry source who did not wish to be named said, “Most crackers which were used in Delhi had reached their destinations before the Supreme Court had banned them. So it is not difficult to see how they reached the end user.”

Although the Delhi Police conducted multiple raids to seize illegal firecrackers, adjoining cities such as Noida and Ghaziabad saw a high amount of such firecrackers being sold.

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