The Supreme Court’s decision of banning sale of firecrackers in the National Capital Region comes just nine days before the festival of lights – Diwali – celebrated with much gusto across the country especially north India. This has been done to keep rising pollution levels in check.
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 makes it extremely difficult for authorities to enforce it. It would have been desirable if the court had given ample time to both authorities and traders before taking such a decision. As per reports, this could lead to losses to the tune of Rs 1,000 crore as NCR makes up almost 20-25% of the total firecracker market in the country. Most manufacturers take orders from traders in advance and the bulk of supplies are made in the last week before Diwali.
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 bio-mass as per a report by IIT Kanpur.
Thirdly, the use of diesel generators is prevalent in most parts of NCR to compensate for 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.