New Delhi: Environment and health experts welcomed the Supreme Court's order on Tuesday on the sale and manufacture of low-emission "green" firecrackers, with some terming it a "spectacular" decision and others saying it was time the society celebrated festive occasions "more responsibly".
The apex court, besides imposing decibel limits on firecrackers that could be sold in the market across the country, in its verdict also fixed a two-hour time period from 8 pm to 10 pm for bursting them on Diwali and other festivals.
D Saha, an environmental scientist who previously worked with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), welcomed the judgment and said the authorities would now have to ensure that the norms are adhered to more strictly, especially at the manufacturing level.
"As a society, we have been using firecrackers to celebrate occasions, from festivals to landmark days and weddings to grand events, but there is a much bigger cost involved, the damage the bursting causes to the environment and of course the health hazards. And, so we must behave more responsibly," he told PTI.
When asked how the decibel norms could be checked for compliance, Saha said there is an old organisation, the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO), which works on the regulation of public safety aspects related to explosive substances.
Set up in 1898, the PESO's objectives include ensuring public safety in the areas of manufacture, transport, storage, handling, of explosives, petroleum, carbide of calcium, inflammable substances and compressed gases.
The court, in its order, said that the permissible limit of sound and smoke will be approved by the PESO.
"The PESO already has a centre in Sivakasi (Tamil Nadu), home to some of India's largest fireworks manufacturer. And since Diwali is approaching, the authorities would have to work quickly to ensure compliance," he said.
Other environmental experts also hailed the decision, saying anything that cuts emission level should be welcomed.
Gufran Beig of Centre-run System of the Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) said use of 'green firecrackers' and restriction on timing of the use are good steps.
When asked what a 'green firecracker' is, he said, "Any such item which produces minimal toxicity and minimal fumes can be termed as a green firecracker."
"The decision by the court is welcoming and we as scientists can produce a model in advance to tell the impact on the air quality due to reduction in the use of firecrackers, and also can alert authorities accordingly to take steps," he said.
Lung surgeon at the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital (SGRH) in New Delhi Arvind Kumar hailed the court's verdict, terming it as a "spectacular decision".
"I think it's a landmark decision given the ill-effects the use of firecrackers has on the health of people. The court, in its ruling, has made it clear that the use of crackers amounts to serious health hazard. Lungs are the worst affected from their fumes, besides injuries they can cause to eyes and eardrums," he said.
They have also specified decibel norms, limited their use during Diwali and other festive occasions.
"Many current generation firecrackers have large levels of heavy metal in them which pose serious threat to health. There has been a study which shows that the exposure to the person bursting the firecrackers is also extremely high, and therefore we need to behave more responsibly as a society," Kumar told PTI.
The bench, comprising Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, also restrained e-commerce websites like Flipkart and Amazon from selling firecrackers with emission levels beyond the permissible limit.
Saha said aerial firecrackers like those used in firework shows in big cities around the world cause less damage as compared to those used at the ground-level.
"We have a tradition of celebration but we need to strike a balance given the environmental and health impact involved," he said.
Updated Date: Oct 23, 2018 19:15:17 IST