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Order Relaxing Ban on Crackers: Petitioners Allege Suppression Of Facts By CPCB, SC To Hear Their Plea On Friday

In a startling disclosure, the petitioners in the cracker-pollution case, filed by infants Arjun Gopal and others, have alleged that the Central Pollution Control Board suppressed the relevant information to the Supreme Court, which led to its relaxation of its previous ban on crackers, on September 12.

The CPCB, it has now been disclosed, has taken a stand nearly 20 years ago that Sulphur in fireworks should not be permitted as Sulphur on combustion produces Sulphur Dioxide and the same is extremely harmful to health.  In Sagun Kaushik v Lt. Governor of Delhi & Ors [CWP 3364/1997],  CPCB had told the Delhi High Court that between 9 p.m. to midnight on Diwali day, the levels of Sulphur Dioxide content in the air is dangerously high.

In their fresh IA to be heard on Friday, the petitioners have alleged that the CPCB had specifically stated that joined crackers should be banned by way of their letter to the Commissioner of Police dated 4.11.1996.   “Neither the CPCB nor the Delhi Police divulged this fact to this Hon’ble Court”, the I.A. says.

The IA further submits that the  Amicus Curiae, appointed by the Delhi High Court in that case, had filed his report dated 14.9.1998 which records that submissions of the MoEF and the CPCB which recommended the instant ban on flying fireworks (including rockets), joined crackers and crackers commonly known as Atom Bombs and Maroons.   This has been suppressed by all parties who were in the know of events, the IA further claims.

The IA reveals that the CPCB had submitted a detailed report nearly 20 years ago which studied the ambient air pollution during Diwali in 1997 and 1998. This report shows the fatal situation that is created annually in Delhi.

Since pollution levels could only become worse over the years, there is no reason to modify the interim order passed on November 11, 2016, the IA says.   Questioning the “graded response”, the IA says that it was suggested in 1997 itself, and the facts show that there has been absolutely no change in the severe pollution that has been  caused.

The IA also questions the September 12 order which claims that one must gradually eliminate air pollution in Delhi and in the NCR caused by the bursting of fireworks.  There can be no gradual elimination of a serious problem that affects the lives of the people under Article 21 of the Constitution, particularly the children and the marginalised, the IA says.

The IA also alleges that the Delhi Police did not divulge to the Supreme Court that there are no borders or barriers or check posts to prohibit the entry of fireworks in the NCR.   The IA also gives details of some of the firecrackers manufacturers in the NCR, all of which were suppressed from the Supreme Court earlier.

The IA, therefore, prays that the September 12 order may be modified to ban the use of fire crackers using Sulphur, joined crackers, flying crackers (like rockets), atom bombs and maroons with immediate effect; and also direct the police to strictly enforce the bursting of fireworks to be limited to 6 PM-11PM as already decided in 1997.


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