Can SC order rein-in air pollution on Diwali?

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Even as cities like Delhi and Mumbai choke with bad air quality, the cracker ban by Supreme Court has left many manufacturers and sellers reeling with inevitable future losses.

Keeping air pollution in mind, and on the run-up to Diwali this week, the highest court, on October 23, banned all firecrackers that were not ‘green crackers’. According to an affidavit filed by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) in the Supreme Court on August 21 this year, ‘green crackers’ are less polluting, with lower emission levels. However, if this definition is taken into consideration then the whole cracker industry in India, including the largest Sivakasi, would be rendered as illegal.

The court also relaxed its view keeping in mind the Diwali festival and allowed to burst fireworks for two hours in cities. The states can decide the timings of these two hours though.

However, many residents of metros are of the opinion that SC’s order comes too late and at wrong time too. In a country where rules are flouted without a blink, this order may not help further deterioration of the air quality. The air pollution in these cities in the verge of turning severe from bad. A ban on construction activities was also initiated as Delhi’s air quality was on the brink of turning “severe” due to stubble burning in the adjoining regions and unfavourable meteorological conditions.

Gurgaon, Faridabad and Noida recorded an AQI of 416, which falls in the “severe” category, while air quality was “very poor” in Ghaziabad and Greater Noida. Eleven areas in Delhi recorded “severe” air quality while 16 areas recorded “very poor” air quality, according to the CPCB data.The PM2.5 level was recorded at 217. Fine particulates can be a matter of more serious health concern than PM10 (particles in the air with a diameter of less than 10 micrometres). As per the CPCB data, the PM10 level in Delhi stood at 368. The Centre-run System of Air Quality Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) said the AQI of Delhi-NCR would continue to remain in the upper range of the “very poor” category in the next three days. Mumbai too is on the list.

Air pollution gives rise to health conditions like asthma, allergies, lung problems along with causing distress to our already deteriorating eco-system.

However, how much the efforts of the Supreme Court and activists would actually reap result would be seen post Diwali.

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