Kolkata | Days after the West Bengal Pollution Control Board allowed “green crackers” during Kali Puja, Diwali and all the festivities in the state this year, the Calcutta High Court on Friday ordered a complete ban on the usage and sale of all kinds of firecrackers, including green ones, during the upcoming festivities.
It also said that the order shall persist for all remaining festivities this year including Chhath Puja, Guru Nanak Jayanti, Christmas, and New Year’s celebrations, and only wax or oil-based ‘diyas’ shall be permitted to be used.
The police authorities were also instructed to keep a strict vigil on the use and sale of firecrackers.
A division bench of Justices Sabyasachi Bhattacharya and Aniruddha Roy was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition moved by environmental activist Roshni Ali seeking a ban on the sale and use of firecrackers during the upcoming festivities in order to safeguard people’s right to clean, healthy and breathable air, particularly in times of the vicious Covid-19 pandemic.
Advocate Srijib Chakraborty, appearing for an association of firecracker manufacturers, cited a Supreme Court in November 2020 that had set aside an order of the Telangana High Court imposing a complete ban on sale and use of firecrackers and had permitted the use of green crackers, as he prayed for permission to the use of only green crackers as authorised by the certifying authority, the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute.
But the bench held: “Is it possible to test firecrackers? Can you put a mechanism in place before November 4? We can’t kill people by following judgments blindly.”
Considering the Supreme Court judgement on the use of green firecrackers, it said: “Keeping in mind the practical realities, we find that there is no mechanism in place to ascertain whether the crackers being sold/burst are only green firecrackers in compliance with the norms set in place by the relevant certifying body.”
The court also observed that it would be an impossible task by police and law enforcement bodies to inspect firecrackers and the classification under which they are sold.
It observed that for the larger interest of the citizens, the smaller interest of the manufacturers might be overlooked.
The order comes a couple of days after the West Bengal Pollution Control Board issued a directive banning all kinds of fireworks, except green fireworks that can be burst for two hours from 8 p.m. on Diwali and other festivals.
The directive said that only green firecrackers can be sold in the state and bursting of such firecrackers shall be allowed for two hours — between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. — during Diwali and for two hours on Chhath Puja from 6-8 a.m. and 35 minutes during Christmas and New Year’s Eve from 11.55 p.m. to 12.30 a.m.
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