The Supreme Court of India on 31 July 2017 announced a ban on the use of five metals including lithium, mercury, arsenic, antimony and lead in firecrackers, deeming them as harmful for the environment.
The decision was taken by a bench of justices headed by Justice Madan B Lokur who cited air pollution as one of the main reasons behind the move.
The order came after the Central Pollution Control Board's (CPCB) Member Secretary informed the apex court that standards on air pollution caused by the bursting of firecrackers are yet to be laid down and the exercise would be completed by 15 September.
The CPCB stated that till the completion of the project, no firecrackers manufactured should contain the banned metals in any form whatsoever.
The bench stated in its judgement that it is the responsibility of the Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation (PESO) to ensure compliance particularly in Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu. The apex court also made it clear that for setting up of standards for firecrackers, collaborative efforts will be made between CPCB and PESO.
Previously, on the last date of hearing, the court had pulled up CPCB and PESO for their lack of clarity on the environmental impact of pollution from firecrackers. The next date of hearing has been set by the bench for 23 August 2017.
Besides this, the top court expressed concern over rising air pollution levels in Delhi- NCR, especially from crackers during the festival time of Diwali and Dussehra. The court ordered the authorities concerned to take necessary steps to regulate the firecracker industries. It has also asked the bodies to find out the impact of pollution caused by firecrackers on the environment, how it could change the quality of air and also about the safety standards.
• The Supreme Court had earlier refused to modify its order banning the sale and stockpiling of firecrackers in Delhi- NCR.
• It had also refused to revoke the suspension of licences of traders dealing in such explosive material.
• It had directed CPCB to prepare an inventory of existing firecrackers with the traders and suggest measures for their disposal.
• The CPCB had earlier told the court that chemical composition of firecrackers which are commonly used exceeded some of the prescribed parameters which may have harmful effects.
• The board, in its report, had said that most of the firecrackers carried large amount of sulphur, which is one of the major causes of air pollution.
• Further on 11 November 2016, the apex court had directed the Centre to suspend all such licences as permit sale of fireworks, wholesale and retail within the territory of NCR and had said that the suspension shall remain in force till further orders of the court.
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