As violations of Supreme Court imposed restrictions on use and sale of firecrackers were reported across states during Diwali, questions cropped up Thursday over implementing the ban in a short period but legal experts said law enforcement agencies must be made accountable for the breaches that can hurt the ambitious efforts to combat pollution.
The experts also said the ban is not unimplementable.
In Delhi, a thick haze engulfed the national capital as it recorded its worst air quality of the year the morning after Diwali as the pollution level entered “severe-plus emergency” category or ten times the permissable limit due to rampant bursting of toxic firecrackers in gross violation of a Supreme Court order, authorities said.
Experts, both legal and environmental, said though sounds of cracker bursting were heard in breach of the 2-hour time limit between 8 PM to 10 PM on Diwali yesterday, they said the orders were in the right direction for gradual implementation and would set the tone for policy making on the issue of controlling pollution.
The experts said the law enforcement agencies have to be made accountable for the non-compliance of the two-hour-long window granted by the apex court on October 23 for bursting of the less polluting green crackers.
Senior advocates Rakesh Dwivedi, KTS Tulsi, Rajeev Dhavan, Ajit Sinha and environmentalist and lawyer M C Mehta, advocates Gopal Sankaranarayanan, Aprajita Singh and environmentalist Anumita Roy Chowdhury were unanimous in their view that the apex court has come out with implementable orders and now, it is for the authorities and the citizens to take it forward.
There have been criticism from some quarters that it was not practical to implement the order in this festive season.
The experts said the apex court direction would eventually lead to ending manufacturing of polluting crackers and that the next Diwali will be less polluting with the only green crackers which have low emission of light, sound and harmful chemicals entering the
Sankaranarayanan, who has been arguing for the ban of fire crackers, said the order has been largely implemented, barring the national capital where, he alleged the Delhi police failed.
“Of course the order has been implemented. The time limit (fixed by the Supreme Court) was largely followed. In Delhi, police decided not to implement it. It is the fault of the Commissioner of Police. Only the Commissioner of Police disobeyed it,” he said, citing the order which stated that the SHOs of concerned police stations would be made accountable for the violations, if any.
Singh, who has been assisting the apex court as an amicus curiae in the air pollution matters, said even if the “positive” order was not implemented in “totality”, it was a “huge step”.
Dwivedi said authorities will be in a better position next time to prevent bursting of crackers beyond the permissible time limit.