On Monday, Oct. 9, the Supreme Court suspended the sale of firecrackers in Delhi NCR region till November 1, 2017. This step was taken to test whether a Deepavali without firecrackers will have a “positive effect” on the health of citizens of this region and a steadily deteriorating air quality of Delhi NCR.
Deepavali can be celebrated with equal fervour by various other means as well. Direct evidence is available of deterioration of air quality at alarming levels every year due to burning firecrackers during Deepavali. Particularly in 2016 pm [particulate matter] levels had shot up by three times, making Delhi the worst city in the world, as far as air pollution was concerned. Direct and immediate cause therefor was burning of crackers during Deepavali for this incident.
The Bench of judges pointed to the various efforts made by the government, the media and civil society to create awareness of the harms of burning firecrackers, especially on the children. The adverse effects have been witnessed year after year. The air quality deteriorates abysmally and the city chokes on air. This leads to closing of the schools and the authorities are compelled to take various measures on emergency basis, when faced with a “health crisis”.
Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has consistent stated for the past 20 years that sulphur in fireworks should be banned. It released in a statement, “Sulphur on combustion produces sulphur-dioxide and it is extremely harmful to health.” The CPCB has clearly said that between 9 p.m. to midnight on Deepavali, the levels of sulphur-dioxide content in the air rise dangerously.