Supreme Court has imposed a ban on the sale of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR during Diwali. Court ordered that sale of firecrackers will not be allowed in National Capital Territory(NCT) till November 1.
The order was issued by deputy commissioner Vinay Pratap Singh says that “we have the direct evidence of deterioration of air quality at alarming levels, which happens every year. The air quality deteriorates abysmally and alarmingly and the city chokes thereby. It leads to closing the schools and the authorities are compelled to take various measures on an emergent basis, when faced with “health emergency” situation”.
While several groups of traders on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court, seeking a modification of the October 9 order that banned the sale of firecrackers and there is an estimated loss of 1000 crores for to the traders directly due to the highly paid license fees, a lot of crackers that they already have stocked. Most manufacturers take orders from traders in advance and the bulk of supplies are made in the last week before Diwali.
The Supreme Court’s decision of banning the sale of firecrackers in the NCR comes just nine days before the Diwali – celebrated with much gusto across the country especially north India. Here are five reasons why this ban is unlikely to be effective on the ground and firecrackers form just the tip of the iceberg.
Firstly, the order comes so close to the festival on October 19 that can make it extremely difficult for authorities to enforce it & keep a check. It would have been desirable if the court had given ample time to both authorities and traders before taking such a decision.
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Secondly, if the motive is to ensure air pollution is minimised, then why not take action against the big polluters? The air quality in NCR is at most affected for a week by firecrackers during a period of 52 weeks. The remainder weeks witness high pollution levels mainly due to road-dust, vehicular pollution and burning of biomass as per a report by IIT Kanpur.
Thirdly, the use of diesel generators is prevalent in most parts of NCR to compensate for the acute shortage of electricity. It is common to find large capacity generators in malls, hotels, hospitals, and apartment complexes among others which add to the rising PM10 levels. Construction is a roaring business in NCR and most of the brick supply comes from kilns from areas like Noida, Ghaziabad, and Sohna which also add to the pollution. There is no uniform policy among Delhi, UP and Haryana to deal with these problems.
Fourthly, the court order goes against the popular cultural sentiment around Diwali. Even though the court has gone solely by facts that the period around Diwali witnesses extremely high levels of pollutants, religion invariably finds its way into the discussion. Social media is full of comparisons in which people are questioning the reasoning behind this decision. Some find it akin to banning Christmas trees on Christmas and goats on Bakr-Eid.