Nearly four months after banning the manufacture of polluting crackers, the Supreme court on Tuesday asked why people were only running after the firecracker industry though automobiles are a more significant source of pollution. The apex court said many people lost their livelihood after firecracker manufacturing units were shut down following its order passed in October last year and some way out had to find out so that they could get back to work.
The apparent softening of SC’s approach on the ban on firecrackers came after manufacturers contended that the court’s order had left more than two lakh workers unemployed.
A bench of Justices S Bobde and S A Nazeer asked the Centre whether it had conducted some comparative study to find out pollution caused by firecrackers and vehicles. It also asked the government to examine the problem of unemployment in the firecracker industry.
“Is there any similar examination on what extent of contamination is brought about by fireworks, and what extent is brought about via cars? It seems you are running after firecrackers, but big-ger pollution contributor is perhaps automobiles,” the bench told additional solicitor general A N S Nadkarni.
The Centre told the court that the chemical formulation of green crackers has now been finalized and it’s bulk manufacturing could start from May. It said the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), which were entrusted with the task by the court to formulate the chemical composition of green crackers, have developed the sample crackers which are being tested.
“NEERI will establish baseline values for the emission of improved and green crackers, and also standard emission testing methodologies shall be adopted to quantify the emission levels. The baseline standards and testing methodologies shall be notified by MoEF and Central Pollution Control Board,” the government said.
Advocate Gopal Shankar-Narayanan, appearing for the petitioners, told the bench that the court had passed the order on banning polluting firecrackers on the suggestion of the Centre and there was no ban on green firecrackers. He said that’ the people who were employed in the industry would get back their jobs after manufacturing of green crackers starts.
SC had on October 23 banned manufacturing of polluting firecrackers and ruled that only green crackers with reduced emissions will be allowed to be sold in the country to control pollution. The court passed the order after the Centre had suggested that emission level in crackers could be reduced by changing the chemical composition.