Observing that instances of major fires and explosions across the country had become common during religious and cultural festivals, the Bombay high court on Monday directed the state government to crack down on unauthorised sale and storage of firecrackers ahead of Diwali.
A bench, led by Justice VM Kanade, directed the government to ensure that firecrackers are not stored and sold in shops located in residential buildings and that they should be allowed to be sold only in open spaces.
The bench also directed all the municipal corporations in the state to take steps to implement its order and file a compliance report by October 25.
“It is common knowledge that during Diwali people burst firecrackers. On other festivals, firecrackers are burst in temples. There is huge demand for firecrackers. While there is nothing wrong in businessmen taking advantage of the demand and supplying firecrackers, they must remember that their own safety and the safety of others trumps the motive of making a profit,” said Justice Kanade.
The court also cited examples of the temple fire in Kollam, Kerala, in April this year in which over 100 devotees died after a stack of firecrackers meant to be burst to mark the conclusion of the Meena-Bharani festival, exploded accidentally. It also said the authorities must “take lessons” from the fire incident at the ‘Make in India’ event in Mumbai’s Girgaum Chowpatty in February this year.
The bench was hearing a public interest litigation filed by a resident of Nashik, raising concerns over the sale of firecrackers in residential areas and the lack of action by the corporation and police.
“Ideally, such shops should be located in open spaces so that damage is minimal in case of any untoward incident and it is easier to regulate and monitor storage and sale of firecrackers. The police and the corporations must ensure that the statutory rules on the sale and storage of firecrackers are implemented. Simply cancelling the licences of the sellers is not enough,” the bench said.