The manner in which the Supreme Court has dealt with the issue {of fire-crackers on Diwali} raises the concern of tyranny of the un-elected. Discuss.

Published: October 13, 2017

Delhi has been facing the problem of worsening air quality which has been compounded by approaching winter, stubble burning etc. In order to deal with it in short term SC has banned  the sale of firecrackers in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) till 30th October which covers the Diwali celebration.

  • Bursting of crackers release high amount of carcinogens like Sulphur Dioxide, NO2 , PM 10 in relatively shorter period of time.
  • The particulate matter in the air has been reported to be more than twenty-six times the permissible limits for human safety post bursting of crackers due to which children and elderly are forced to remain indoor.
  • The decision by SC has been criticized as the ban came just 10 days before the festival when all the manufacturing had been carried out and dealers had already purchased it from manufacturers based on lifting of the ban on 12th September 2017. Thus it has dismissed the commercial considerations of the firecracker industry.
  • SC does not have in-house expertise in these domains as decision requires weighing trade-offs, which would depend on numerous inputs from scientific organizations, regulatory institutions, public policy experts and civil society.
  • Bans are rarely effective as in case of residue burning and if the police fails to enforce the order, the credibility of the Supreme Court, particularly in cases of environmental regulation, will suffer immensely.

This may be a short term solution but in long term governments at the Centre and the states should involve different agencies like the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation and the pollution control boards and invest in setting regulatory standards and monitoring effectively. Solution to problem of pollution also requires a comprehensive plan to tackle different sources of pollution and create awareness.