The Supreme Court of India has directed the State of Rajasthan and the Udaipur District Administration to take immediate measures to reduce air and noise pollution in Udaipur, and these instructions apply to all states in the country. The court's mandate is to reduce pollution not only during festivals but also in the future.
An application was written by applicants earlier demanding for
- Ban the sale, purchase and use of firecrackers in India, State Governments and police to take immediate appropriate steps against anyone seeking to manufacture, sell or purchase firecrackers.
- District Magistrates and Superintendents of Police of every district be made personally accountable if the order for a complete ban on the manufacture, sale, purchase and use of firecrackers is violated.
Several orders were passed where the steps have been indicated to minimize and to avoid air as well as noise pollution
Records have revealed that, despite the court's rules to sell "Green Crackers," some shopkeepers are using fake QR codes on the boxes and falsely labeling them as 'green crackers.' Even though Barium Salts in firecrackers were banned, the production, sale, and use of these banned fireworks persist both physically and online, despite nationwide restrictions.
Later, the court reviewed a request from Fireworks Manufacturers to allow the use of Barium Nitrate as a substitute for Barium Salts. However, as of now, the court has not granted permission, and the ban on using Barium Salts in fireworks remains in place.
The Supreme Court emphasizes Under Article 21 of the Constitution of India that all states and their agencies must strictly adhere to the previous directions issued by the Court. These directions are aimed at safeguarding the health of innocent citizens, including seniors and children, as the use of banned fireworks can be harmful. No authority should allow the violation of these Court orders by permitting banned firecrackers in the name of celebrations. Celebrations should not come at the expense of others' health. It is clarified that there isn't a complete ban on firecrackers; only those that are harmful to health, especially for seniors and children, are prohibited as per the Court's directions.
When issuing the interim directions, the Court considered the detrimental impact of fireworks on the environment, as well as the health of people, affecting their lungs, eyes, and ears. The Court also acknowledged the significant disturbance and noise pollution caused by fireworks, especially for those who are ill and elderly.
Police and District Magistrates must ensure that fireworks are not set off in silence zones—areas at least 100 meters away from places like hospitals, schools, courts, and religious sites, as designated by the authorities.
The department of different states must create a plan within 15 days to educate school children about the health risks of breathing polluted air, including air pollution from fireworks. They should involve school staff, volunteers, and NGOs to reach out to all schools and encourage children to minimize or avoid bursting fireworks during celebrations.
Suggestions on how to reduce air and noise pollution
- Manufacturing and selling crackers with reduced emissions (improved crackers) and green crackers will be allowed.
- Only licensed traders are permitted to sell firecrackers, and it must be ensured that they are selling only those allowed by the court's order.
- E-commerce platforms like Flipkart and Amazon are prohibited from accepting online orders and making online sales of firecrackers. If any of these companies are found doing so, they may face contempt of court charges, and the court can impose monetary penalties.
- The use of Barium salts in fireworks should be prohibited.
- Only fireworks with sound levels within permissible limits are allowed in the market. Violations will lead to the suspension of manufacturers' licenses, and the affected lots will be appropriately disposed of. [Arjun Gopal v. Union of India, (2017) 16 SCC 280] , the directions issued and restrictions imposed in the order passed by this Court on 18-7-2005 in Noise Pollution (5) [Noise Pollution (5), In re,(2005) 5 SCC 733] shall continue to be in force.
- The government and educational institutions will run public awareness campaigns on the harmful effects of firecrackers.
- On Diwali days or on any other festivals when such fireworks generally take place, it would strictly be from 8.00 p.m. till 10.00 p.m. only. On Christmas eve and New Year's eve, when such fireworks start around midnight i.e. 12.00 a.m., it would be from 11.55 p.m. till 12.30 a.m. only.
UT NOTE: Udaipur, renowned for hosting the highest number of tourists annually, has experienced a significant surge in visitor arrivals this year. The city boasts spectacular tourist attractions nestled amidst picturesque lakes. Despite the positive influx, there is a flip side to the coin. The ongoing Smart City initiatives have inadvertently led to the deterioration of roads, with garbage strewn in various areas of the city. During the festive season, Udaipur experiences a significant surge in crowds, leading to substantial traffic jams on numerous roads. It becomes imperative to uphold the city's cleanliness, and proactive measures must be taken in accordance with the court's directives to address issues of air and noise pollution.The lakes, integral to Udaipur's charm, are facing pollution issues attributed to harmful waste and chemicals discharged by diesel and petrol boats, adversely impacting aquatic life. While the administration is actively engaged in curbing pollution, stringent measures are imperative to uphold the city's global standing and preserve its unique beauty.