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Many burst crackers with impunity, in violation of apex court norms

Many burst crackers with impunity, in violation of apex court norms

NEW DELHI: Even as the national capital continued its battle with toxic air, several instances of firecracker bursting, before and after the time limit fixed by the apex court, were observed in Delhi-NCR during New Year celebrations. The Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting (SAFAR) on Monday warned that any new trigger, particularly due to "open fire and pyrotechnic display (firecrackers)", will make the air heavier and thicker which may lead to rapid deterioration in air quality to the severe-plus range.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had written to Delhi police and district magistrates of the national capital, Noida and Gurgaon ahead of Christmas and New Year's eve to ensure that the Supreme court order in this regard is followed and no firecrackers are burst. But despite the warnings, several instances of violations of the apex court order was observed, officials said, adding the number of violations committed was, however, not available immediately. The Supreme Court had said on Christmas and the New Year's eve, green firecrackers would be allowed to be burst between 11.55 pm and 12.30 am, since these celebrations start midnight. Delhi has been battling alarming pollution levels since October, and in the last 10 days, the national capital witnessed long spells of severe air quality which continued to plague the city on New Year's Eve and on the first day of January.

The Supreme Court on October said that only firecrackers with reduced emission and decibel levels will be permitted during all festivals. On Diwali, firecrackers could be burst between 8 pm and 10 pm. People can burst firecrackers on Christmas and New Year between 11:55 pm and

12:30 am.

Crackers cannot be sold online and if they are, the sites will be hauled up for contempt. Activists had petitioned the top court for a complete ban on fireworks as pollution levels rise in the capital, New Delhi, ahead of Diwali.

India is home to the world's 10 most polluted cities with Delhi's air quality often crossing the unhealthy zone. The number of "very unhealthy" days or worse — when levels of dangerous particles called PM2.5 crossed 200 — rose to 84 in New Delhi in 2017 from 66 in 2015, Bloomberg reported quoting an analysis of air quality data from Air Visual.

The Supreme Court had earlier said that there is a need to take into account all aspects, including the fundamental rights of livelihood of firecracker makers and the right to health of over 1.3 billion people in the country, while considering a plea for the ban.

It asked the Central government to promote community cracker bursting and warned law enforcement that the station house officers of police station concerned will be held liable if banned firecrackers are sold in their area.

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