Three toddlers aged between 6 and 14 months have moved the Supreme Court seeking its intervention to stop the use of loud firecrackers during Dussehra and Diwali, asserting their right to be brought up in a pollution-free environment.
In a petition filed through their fathers, petitioners Arjun Goyal, Aarav Bhandari and Zoya Rao Bhasin of Delhi have sought the top court’s intervention as authorities have failed to take adequate measures to curb air and noise pollution.
“They are foremost prone to lung disease, asthma, coughing, bronchitis, retarded nervous system development and cognitive impairment,” the petitioners submitted and urged the court to issue immediate orders restraining government agencies from issuing licences for sale of firecrackers in the Capital.
The widespread use of firecrackers in Delhi – declared the most polluted city in the world by the World Health Organization – during the festive season exposes vulnerable infants to severe diseases such as asthma and worsens their lung conditions, the petition said.
Asserting their fundamental right to a clean and healthy environment under Article 21, the toddlers said, “The right to breathe clean air is essential for a conducive environment for growth and development.”
Though the top court has declared the state as the protector of natural resources, the latter has failed to perform its job effectively, the petition alleged.
Authorities haven’t laid down any guidelines to ensure that manufacturers or sellers conform to environmental norms while distributing these crackers. A look at the liences will “show that environmental and pollution concerns are furthest from the minds of the Government representatives,” the petition said.
Several reports from health journals and research papers were given to the court in support of the petition to show how pollutants released from fireworks worsen the lung conditions of children.
“The imminent advent of festivals that involve widespread fireworks are a clear and present danger to the health of the Applicants and the other children who are residents of Delhi,” the petition said.
It cited a study in Bangalore that shows how a widespread awareness campaign and enforcement mechanisms led to a sharp 32% decrease in pollution levels there during Diwali time in 2013 compared to a year ago.
The top court in 2005 issued directions to restrict the use of fireworks and fixed a 10 pm deadline for their use. It also changed the basis for evaluating fireworks from the noise level to its chemical composition.
The petition said the ruling brought some respite to Delhiites but studies thereafter revealed that cases of wheezing, respiratory diseases, exacerbation of bronchial asthma and bronchitis increase by 40% during Diwali.