With less than three months left for Diwali, the Supreme Court on Monday imposed a ban on the use of five harmful metals including lead and mercury in firecrackers as they cause enormous air pollution.
A bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur prohibited use of lithium, mercury, arsenic, antimony, lead metals which are used in the manufacturing of firecrackers.
The order came after the Central Pollution Control Board's (CPCB) Member Secretary told the top court that standards on air pollution caused by the bursting of firecrackers are yet to be laid down and the exercise would be completed by September 15.
"In the meanwhile, we direct that no firecrackers manufactured by the respondents shall contain antimony, lithium, mercury, arsenic and lead in any form whatsoever. It is the responsibility of the Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation (PESO) to ensure compliance particularly in Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu. There seems to be some doubt about strontium and its compound. We would like to hear submissions in this regard," the bench, also comprising Justice Deepak Gupta, said.
The apex court also made it clear that for setting up of standards for firecrackers, collaborative efforts will be made between CPCB and PESO. "Dr A B Akolkar, Member Secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board and K Sundershan, Dy Chief Controller of Explosive, Sivakasi should remain present on August 23, the next date of hearing," the bench said.
On the last date of hearing, the court had pulled up CPCB and PESO for "lack of clarity" on environmental impact of pollution from firecrackers.
The apex court had also expressed concern over air pollution in Delhi-NCR, especially from crackers during the festive season of Diwali and Dussehra, and said that authorities have to take steps to regulate firecracker industries.
The apex court had said it wanted to know from these bodies as to what would be the impact on environment from pollution caused by firecrackers, how it could change the quality of air and also about the safety standards.
The apex court had earlier refused to modify its order banning the sale and stockpiling of firecrackers in Delhi and the national capital region. It had refused to revoke the suspension of licences of traders dealing in such explosive material. The apex court had directed CPCB to prepare an inventory of existing firecrackers with the traders and suggest measures for their disposal.
CPCB had earlier told the court that chemical composition of firecrackers which are commonly used exceeded some of the prescribed parameters which may have harmful effects. The board, in its report, had said that most of the firecrackers carried large amount of sulphur which is one of the major causes of air pollution.
The apex court had on November 11 last year directed the Centre to suspend all such licences as permit sale of fireworks, wholesale and retail within the territory of NCR and said that the suspension shall remain in force till further orders of the court. It had also directed that no such licences shall be granted or renewed till further orders.
(Feature Image Source: PTI)