Ahead of Diwali celebrations this year, the Supreme Court, in a bold move, has banned the sale of firecrackers in Delhi and its neighbourhood, National Capital Region (NCR), till November 1. Though, those who had already bought the firecrackers can still burn them on October 19, the move is to counter and observe air pollution caused due to bursting firecrackers in the city.
SC has also cancelled licenses issued by the Delhi Police to firecracker sellers. “Let's try out at least one Diwali without firecrackers,” the court observed on Monday. A survey conducted in 2012 by the WHO of 1600 major cities revealed that Delhi was the city with the worst air quality. In its 2016 report, WHO ranked Delhi 11th amongst 3000 cities in terms of PM2.5 (particles less than or 2.5 micrometers in diameter) pollution and 25th in PM10 (particles with diameter of 10 micrometers or less) pollution. Last year, SC had imposed a similar ban but only in the NCR area, however, it failed to observe the effects of the ban.
In 2016, Delhi Pollution Control Committee’s data showed that in Anand Vihar region of Delhi, the PM2.5 level peaked at a shocking 883 micrograms per cubic metre. That is more than 14 times the safe standard of 60 micrograms per cubic metre. Anand Vihar also had the highest PM10 level, with 1,680 micrograms per cubic metre. That is more than 16 times the safe limit of 100 micrograms per cubic metre. Air pollution peaked during Diwali in 2016; PM10 level went up by over 42 times from the national ambience air quality standard, recorded at 4,273 µg/m³ and PM2.5 level also touched shockingly at 748µg/m³.
However, jumping into another controversy was Twitters troll favourite, Chetan Bhagat, who vehemently opposed the move. He accused the SC of attacking tradition. Defending children, Chetan tweeted “how will the children celebrate Diwali?” Tweeting, on the firecracker ban, Chetan made the analogy of the ban being similar to “banning Christmas trees on Christmas and goats on Bakr-Eid.” To which Maharashtra Congress’s secretary, Shehazad Poonawala, was quick to reply with a tweet that said “Yes coz when Shri Ram returned to Ayodhya you (& those who read your books) were bursting Chinese made crackers to celebrate the homecoming?”