New Delhi: The Centre on Tuesday opposed the plea for a complete ban on the sale of crackers during Diwali across the country and suggested the Supreme Court that certain conditions can be imposed on the manufacture and sale of high-decibel level crackers.
Additional Solicitor General Nadkarni made this submission before a bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan while they were hearing petitions seeking a ban on the sale of crackers as they cause air pollution.
Nadkarni placed on record the Centre’s affidavit filed in consultation with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, National Environment Engineering Research Institute, Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) and Central Pollution Control Board.
The Centre suggested the use of reduced emission firecrackers and avoidance of the use of ash as desiccant or filler materials in crackers for a reduction in particulate matter by 15 to 20 per cent. It said the PESO would ensure that only those crackers whose decibel levels are within the limits are allowed in the market and will suspend the licences of manufacturers on violations.
It said manufacture, sale and use of joined-firecrackers (series crackers) might be banned as the same causes huge air, noise and solid waste problems.
Major Indian cities may explore the option of community fire cracking with strict time restriction as adopted in some countries. Other restrictions such as the bursting of firecrackers may be allowed only in areas/fields pre-identified and pre-designated by respective state government can be explored.
On behalf of the Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers Association, Sivakasi, it was submitted that fireworks have been an inherent part of Diwali celebrations and not just Hindus, but people of other religions equally take part in this festival.
It was pointed out that the turnover in firecrackers is worth thousands of crores and with 350 units in Sivakasi alone, it provides direct employment to over three lakh people and indirect employment to ten lakh people. Any adverse direction against the use of crackers during Diwali will have a disastrous effect on the entire fireworks industry and on the livelihood of lakhs of people who are dependent solely on this industry.
Senior counsel Shekar Naphade for Tamil Nadu opposed the ban on crackers and said that this is an extreme measure. He said a solution to the problem of pollution should not itself become a problem. He cited the instance of ‘odd and even’ cars regulation in the capital to check air pollution and said people resorted to buying two cars (one odd and one even) and this became a big problem.
Counsel said cracker industry has contributed a lot for the development of the area. Schools and colleges established by cracker units are providing education to lakhs of students.
Arguments will continue on August 28....