he Supreme Court on Friday responded to a plea by three toddlers and banned the sale of firecrackers in Delhi, stepping in once again to clean up the national capital’s notoriously foul air.
A bench headed by chief justice TS Thakur asked the government not to renew firecracker licenses.
“Keeping the grave air quality in mind, we can intervene to suspend the license,” the top court said.
The petition was filed by three toddlers -- Arjun Gopal, Aarav Bhandari and Zoya Rao Bhasin – through their fathers.
“Delhi has retained (the) unique distinction of being (the) most polluted city in the world. Levels of particulate matter are highest and across the country, over 7,00,000 deaths occur annually due to air pollution-related diseases,” said the petitioners, aged between six and 14 months.
“Studies show citizens of India have 30 per cent lower lung capacity than Europeans and that the children are worst affected, as their lungs are not fully developed, making their systems more vulnerable,” added the petition filed last year.
A bench headed by then chief justice HL Dattu declined to issue orders, but had reiterated an earlier SC direction issuing guidelines for use of crackers.
The top court had intervened several times to curb pollution in the capital which was blanketed by thick layer of toxic smog for nearly a week after Diwali, raising serious health concerns for millions of people, especially children and the aged.
In its order on Friday, the top court also asked the Central Pollution of Control Board (CPCB) to study the harmful effects of materials used in the manufacture of crackers. The report will be submitted within three months.
“We want to know what kind of diseases can be caused due to these materials and whether it leads to cancerous diseases. One if an obvious effect (on environment) that is visible, but if the elements used are carcinogenic then it affects the users too,” the bench told solicitor general Ranjit Kumar who appeared for CPCB.
Though the direction does not include ban on bursting crackers, advocate Amit Bhandari -– father of Aarav -- said the stringent order will achieve the outcome. “Non-availability would ensure there is no bursting,” he said.
Advocate Gopal Shankaranarayananan, father of Arjun, said the rules also ban transportation of fire crackers.
“If an attempt is made to get the crackers from outside NCR, it would be illegal,” he said.