Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: New regulations regarding selective ban on Fire Crackers
Mains level: Particulars of the Judgmen
- Bursting of firecrackers has seen a substantial increase in PM 2.5 level, which is a very serious health hazard.
- To this effect the SC judgment has come on the basis of a petition filed by two infants a six-month-old and 14-month-old through their fathers in 2015.
- They said the air pollution caused by various factors, especially firecrackers, made Delhi a gas chamber.
- They had pleaded for their right to life.
Highlights of the Judgment
- The Court held that bursting of crackers during Diwali is not the only reason for worsening air quality, at the same time; it definitely contributes to air pollution in a significant way.
- It referred to studies by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to show that post-Diwali pollution was lesser in 2017, after the ban imposed some restrictions on sale and manufacture of crackers, than in 2016.
A Perfect balance
- The Supreme Court has finally struck a balance between the interests of the firecracker industry and the right to public health.
- It has allowed the manufacture and sale of only “green” and reduced-emission or “improved” crackers, while banned those that are loud and toxic to man, animal and the environment.
- The court held that only green or improved crackers would be used during religious festivals and other occasions, including weddings.
Prescribed Time Limit
- The judgment reduced the time for bursting crackers during Deepavali and other festivals to two hours: between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
- For Christmas and New Year, the time slot allowed is just half-an-hour, between 11.55 p.m. and half-past midnight.
- The reduced time window is applicable across the country.
Regulating the Sale
- The court banned the manufacture, sale and use of joined firecrackers (series crackers or ‘laris’), holding that they caused huge air, noise and solid waste problems.”
- The sale of green and improved crackers would be only through licensed traders.
- It banned online sale through e-commerce websites.
- Any e-commerce company found selling crackers online will be hauled up for contempt of court, and the court may eventually also pass orders of monetary penalties.
Ban on certain Chemicals
- The use of Barium salt which is used to give only attractive green colour, but emits poisonous gas causing respiratory problem has been banned by the Court.
- Aluminum is used as fuel in fireworks to give white brilliant sparkle. Aluminium may cause skin problems.
- The Court has also directed Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization (PESO) to review the clinical composition of fireworks, particularly reducing Aluminium content.
Green Crackers at the Manufacturers rescue
- Recently the CSIR have formulated eco-friendly crackers, which would not only cause reduced emissions, but would help people get a reprieve from noise pollution during festivities.
- Green crackers are basically reduced emission crackers wherein we reduce some harmful components, like Barium, Aluminum and Chromium which are conventionally used to get different colours.
- Though their commercial use has not yet began but are expected to be adopted by manufacturers very soon.
Way Forward: Endeavoring Article 21 to effect
- The judgment said that the right to health was part of the fundamental right to life under Article 21 and it assumed greater importance.
- It held that the right to health of millions is far more important than averting an economic loss to the firecracker industry.