Hailing the Supreme Court's decision to suspended licences of firecracker sellers in Delhi, green bodies today said it is a "big victory" in the fight against air pollution as the chemical footprint of crackers is "deadly" and has a major impact on children. Others, however, maintained that the implementation of a "systematic and comprehensive" regional action plan to reduce the pollution levels in a coordinated and time-bound manner is the "need of the hour". "This decision is a big victory in the fight against air pollution in Delhi, especially during winters. The chemical footprint of firecrackers is deadly and has a major impact on children. "Firecrackers contain carbon and sulphur which produce a range of gases when they burn.
Firecrackers also contain chemical substances that are very harmful to our body like aluminium, perchlorate, antimony sulphide, arsenic compounds, mercury, cadmium compounds and others," Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said.
In a stern action to curb air pollution during the ongoing wedding season, the apex court today suspended the licences of all firecracker sellers in Delhi and the National Capital Region with immediate effect till further orders, virtually banning their sale and purchase.
Noting that each one of the ingredients has adverse impacts of different parts of our body, CSE said while aluminium and antimony sulphide cause Alzheimer's disease, perchlorate (ammonium and potassium) causes lung cancer.
A bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices A K Sikri and S A Bobde also directed the Centre not to renew any such licences till further orders while directing Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to examine and submit its report in six months on the harmful effects caused by the materials used in the firecrackers.
"Implementation of a systematic and comprehensive Regional Action Plan to reduce the pollution levels in a coordinated and time-bound manner is the need of the hour and we should move towards that as soon as possible to come out of the health emergency and to safeguard public health," Sunil Dahiya of Greenpeace said.
The national capital had resembled a "gas chamber" as it had come under a thick cover of pollutant-laden smog of scary proportions, forcing the residents to inhale severe quality air days after Diwali when firecrackers were burnt.
Noting that the ban on firecrackers by the Supreme Court was appreciated, Greenpeace said some actions and directions have been taken by the judiciary as well as governments over the past year to control the rising air pollution levels. "What has been missing is a coordinated and comprehensive approach," he said. He said measures such as restriction in transport sector through the odd-even car rationing scheme, firecrackers ban, shutting down of Badarpur thermal power plant were all good moves but a coordinated approach was missing which targeted all sectors contributing to air pollution in a systematic and coordinated way. "The impact of all such measures in terms of absolute reduction in pollution levels will not be seen until and unless all sectors contributing to pollution are targeted together," he said. He said what was missing was the understanding of the regional nature of pollution where thermal power plants, polluting industries and industrial clusters in the upwind direction of Delhi-NCR were operating business as usual and were adding to the emission load carried by air blowing towards Delhi. "Only shutting down one Badarpur plant or banning sale of firecrackers is not going to solve Delhi's air pollution crisis. What is required is similar and much more aggressive and coordinated action across all states, including and surrounding Delhi NCR," he said. The apex court had on November 11 reserved its verdict on the issue and said it would go step-by-step as fireworks have become a part of life and a reasonable order needed to be passed which could be enforced. Equating firecrackers with the "burning of money", the apex court had said one should think that when people are affected so much by firecrackers, what effect would it have it on animals like dogs who have more sensitive ears than humans. It had also observed that as per reports, 30 per cent children in Delhi were asthmatic and steps needed to be taken on all fronts.