Six major firecracker manufacturers violated orders, as observed by the SC, that required them to stop the use of prohibited chemicals like Barium salts and label the firecrackers manufactured in compliance with the prevailing law.
While warning the manufacturers, the court thought over the need to control the production and use of firecrackers because an enormous amount of crackers were being burst, rendering people vulnerable to suffering from pollution. Concerning the following issue, the court directed Environment Ministry to serve the CBI inquiry report copy, which found violations after the court-ordered probe.
Supreme Court Order
SC laid a full ban on firecrackers and issued orders allowing only green crackers and reduced emission crackers in addition to tight restrictions on the timing to burst them. A series of orders related to the Arjun Gopal and Others Vs Union of India and Others petition seeking measures to curb air pollution and asserting rights to clean air under Article 21 was passed.
The fuel and oxidizers used in firecrackers cause a combustion process, resulting in an explosion that spews forth the material present in an intensely hot condition. The metal salts in the explosion react and generate brilliant light as they burn. Various studies demonstrate that these brief bursts of intense light have a detrimental impact on a person’s vision. Cases have emerged in which the light emitted nearby was briefly obscured owing to the sudden bursting of crackers.
According to a research performed by the Central Pollution Control Board, the levels of metals such as aluminium, barium, potassium, and others surged quickly to exceptionally high levels on Diwali Night. Similar increases were seen in China and the United Kingdom. Pollution from firecrackers has a negative impact on the health of animals and people, exacerbating the states’ already low ambient air quality. The crimes committed by children and adults against animals and humans while fully aware of the heinous consequences are particularly heinous.
Studies have shown that many firecrackers, when burst, produce such harsh sounds that have reportedly caused hearing loss in animals. A few years back, a case was filed by a family of four in a small district in Delhi. Few kids were bursting crackers from an adjacent building’s terrace when a rocket shot by them went haywire and burst near the closed window of the room the family was sitting in. The sound was so loud and sudden, it rendered their four-year-old kid unconscious. Bodies of animals have been found dead after the Deepavali night caused due to excessive pollutants inhaled, blocking their respiratory system resulting in them choking to death.
These incidents resulted in lawsuits for a total ban on firecrackers, and court orders on the restriction of chemicals used and their volume. Many trackers have been found to violate the legal sound limits.
Green crackers, the solution?
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, through the National Environment Engineering Research Institute, Nagpur, has produced firecrackers that have reduced the emission of light and sound. According to the Central Government, when potassium nitrate is employed as an oxidant, these firecrackers emit roughly 30% less particulate matter. Safe Water Releaser is the term given to these firecrackers that utilise less potassium nitrate and sulphur while producing the same amount of noise as conventional crackers.
Similarly, Safe Minimal Aluminium and Safe Thermite Crackers are used when the amount of aluminium, sulphur, and potassium nitrate is low. Customers will be able to identify these crackers thanks to the usage of unique QR codes. The Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization was ordered by the Supreme Court to certify the composition of fireworks only after assuring that none of the chemicals used belonged to the banned category.
Many major firework companies have also engaged in green cracker manufacture. These green crackers are more expensive than standard firecrackers, and the level of sound they create is not even equal to regular crackers. Green crackers are promoted as emitting less pollution than regular crackers, yet the pollution problem continues. Furthermore, many are hesitant to purchase these expensive firecrackers because regular ones may be easily obtained by backdoor entrance.
Even if we disregard these small issues, one of the most terrifying dangers that all firecrackers provide is the bodily harm. Fireworks, particularly those having flying features, have been known to go wild and cause fires and bodily injury since they have no set direction. Even green crackers have only partially addressed pollution-related issues, yet physical, emotional, and health dangers may still exist. Unless all dangers are considered, neither cracker is safe to be put into the public domain.
State of the Industry
There are about 2000 manufacturers and only about 120 have the magnitude and tendency to work with the law to green the crackers; the respondents, who are a part of this industry that seeks regulation and provides jobs to many people must come forward with their case.
The new cracker formulations have not been accepted widely as is evident. Firecrackers are not labeled with information on the person responsible for legalities as the court-ordered. The livelihood of many workers depends on these firecracker productions, the meager income they get from the work enables their children to receive an education so that they could live better lives. If the production and sale are halted just like the previous year, the remaining producers might shut down the plants, rendering these people work less and incomeless.
The Central and State government should formulate policies after including the industry and its workers’ livelihood in the equation. There are numerous ways to move forward, and the government has numerous intellectual policymakers who can find a way around which caters to the solution everyone needs.