In a key clarification aimed at checking pollution, the Supreme Court has said that its 2021 order allowing only the use of green firecrackers will apply not just to Delhi-NCR but across the country. During the hearing, the bench observed that children don’t burst fireworks “these days” and it’s the adults who do it, and also said that protecting the environment was everybody’s duty.
Hearing a petition seeking directions to the Rajasthan government to follow the court’s orders banning the use of firecrackers that use barium salts and other polluting chemicals – and curbing air and noise pollution during festive periods – a bench of Justices AS Bopanna and MM Sundresh said no new directions were needed. It said Supreme Court orders were binding across the country and asked Rajasthan to take note of its previous directives on the issue.
In 2021, the Supreme Court had said that while there is no total ban on the use of firecrackers, those containing Barium salts are prohibited. It noted that this was being blatantly violated and warned that top officials at various levels “shall be held personally liable” for any lapses.
In 2018, the court had also set time slots for bursting firecrackers. It had said that they could be burst between 8 pm and 10 pm on Diwali and between 11:55 pm and 12:30 am for New Year and Christmas.
‘Take All Steps’
During the hearing on Tuesday, the bench said, “At this juncture, no specific order will be necessary as this court has passed several orders, where steps have been indicated to minimise and avoid air, as well as noise, pollution. The orders will bind every state in the country, including the state of Rajasthan.”
“Therefore, we make it clear that the state of Rajasthan would also take note of this and take all steps to minimise air and noise pollution, not only during the festival season, but even after that,” it added.
The counsel for the petitioner told the court that there is an increase in noise and air pollution in Rajasthan during the festive period and also sought a direction to the Udaipur administration because of the weddings that take place there.
The lawyer appearing for Rajasthan said, “Every citizen must see to it that they are bursting fewer crackers on Diwali,” he said.
“These days, children don’t burst crackers, it is the adults,” the bench said.
The court also noted that there is a perception that curbing pollution and protecting the environment was only the court’s duty. “It is not. It is everybody’s duty,” said the bench.
Earlier in the day, while hearing a petition on pollution in Delhi, where the Air Quality Index was over 400, the Supreme Court said the issue couldn’t become a political battle and that the poor air quality is responsible for the “murder of people’s health”.