Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Firecrackers ban: If Supreme Court and States could answer a few queries citizens have on mind

India’s judiciary and governments would like the citizens to believe that firecrackers during Deepawali is hazardous enough to be banned. 

Supreme Court is the ringleader in this drive and the States are falling in line, none bothering to answer a few basic questions citizens have on mind. So let’s echo what’s puzzling the citizens.

How Bad Are Firecrackers?

They do add to pollution. 

But the committee appointed by the Supreme Court in  2017 averred it wasn’t “statistically significant.” 

IIT Kanpur, in its report on pollution in Delhi, didn’t even mention firecrackers as a cause for pollution.

The same year Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in its report claimed pollution increased 3-5 times during Deepawali—but that it dissipated within 2-3 days. 

It found the major harmful gases to be “within limits” on Deepawali. 

It also didn’t tell why in June, months away, pollution was double of Deepawali levels. 

The scientific errors in report is well documented. 

Then Why SC Has Banned Firecrackers?

A chronology on actions of Supreme Court is quite embarrassing, actually. 

  • In October 2015, the Supreme Court orders government to start a campaign on “ill effects of fireworks”;
  • In November 2016, the Supreme Court suspends all licences to shops selling fireworks and banned sale of firecrackers; 
  • In September 2017, the Supreme Court lifts ban on sale of fireworks, terming it “too radical”;
  • In October 2018, astonishingly, another bench of Supreme Court was appointed to look into the matter, reviewing its own judgement! This was just before Deepawali. It again banned sale of firecrackers during this Hindu festival; 
  • In October 2018, a few days later, manufacturing and sale of all firecrackers, other than “green crackers”, were banned across India. The “green crackers” too citizens could burst only for two hours between 8-10 p.m;
  • March 2020: On petitions that manufacturers are violating “green crackers” norm, court orders CBI inquiry; 
  • Present Time in 2021: Besides Supreme Court, multiple States, including Rajasthan, Odisha and Bengal, have imposed a ban on firecrackers. 

Apparently, the honourable Court has applied Precautionary Principle (PP), i.e. prevention is better than cure. (It’s another matter that when the same principle is applied in UAPA cases, the Left-Liberal ecosystem is outraged.) 

And if at all prevention is needed, please pay heed to vehicular pollution (20%), 13 power plants, transport sector (41%), wind-blown dust (21.5%) and Industries (18.6%) to PM 2.5 pollution in Delhi. 

Stubble-burning anyone?

How Important Are Firecrackers To Deepawali?

The honourable Court is arguably under the impression that firecrackers are celebratory in nature and hence dispensable. On the other hand, it is a RITUAL and infringing on it goes against the basic tenet of Constitution: Freedom to all to pursue their religious beliefs. 

As noted activist J Sai Deepak observed, Shradhs (paying obeisance to ancestors who come over to have food) precede Deepawali. And firecrackers are supposed to light up the road to heaven as our ancestors return. This is mentioned in India’s oldest scriptures—scripture after scripture after scripture as Supreme Court lawyer Deepak said in a lecture. 

If Not Firecrackers, What Causes Pollution in Delhi?

As per National Green Tribunal (NGT) which the Supreme Court quoted in its judgement on September 12, 2017, below are the prime cause of pollution in Delhi. (As one could see, firecrackers are not even mentioned as cause of the pollution.)

Forget Court, Why States Are Banning Firecrackers?

Because India’s Powers want to appear concerned on pollution without doing anything on ground. If it was concerned, not just reasons mentioned above in this article, beef business won’t be subsidized. Beef causes 650 times more environmental pollution than Deepawali crackers. According to Food and Agriculture Organization, 46% greenhouse gas is generated from beef. 

The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) on the other hand censures firecrackers. 

For God’s Sake, What’s Green Crackers?

By definition, one could guess the firecrackers which don’t emit smoke. But where do you find them? And could an average user of firecrackers make out if the one with him is a green-cracker or not? 

India is a polluted country but Deepawali of a few days can’t explain the inertia of a complete year. This is a story which has a sequel every year: the same prejudice against firecrackers. We have instances every year where citizens flout the prescribed law. It diminishes respect for the Rulers amongst the Ruled. Worse, it creates a sense of persecution-appeasement amongst adherents of major religious groups which is a powder-keg for trouble.

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