Calcutta HC: WB Govt, Pollution Control Board to Make Sure that Only Green Firecrackers with QR Codes be Allowed in State

Tanisha Rana

Published on: October 19, 2022 at 19:28 IST

The West Bengal government and the Pollution Control Board have been ordered by the Calcutta High Court to make sure that only green firecrackers with QR codes be sold in the State before Diwali festivities this year.

Justices Apurba Sinha Ray and Joymalya Bagchi’s bench also ordered the government to use newspaper advertisements and announcements on various platforms to raise awareness of the laws governing the purchase and use of fireworks this festive season.

“We hope and trust that the festival of lights does not become a cause for concern where the demon of pollution poisons our air and leads to irreparable damage to the health of the population at large,” the Court said.

The Court issued the directives after hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) that alleged egregious disregard for the Supreme Court’s orders in the case of Arjun Gopal vs. Union of India and demanded a complete ban on the sale of fireworks in the State.

The petitioner claimed that because the government did not set up a system to ensure that only green crackers were sold and set off, there was excessive noise and air pollution in past years.

The State protested to a blanket prohibition, pointing out that the Supreme Court had already overturned its decree banning firecrackers altogether.

The Pollution Control Board further informed the Bench that it has issued directives allowing only the selling and bursting of green crackers in West Bengal on designated dates and within a predetermined period of time.

The State added that the previous directives from the Supreme Court and High Court had been properly carried out.

Therefore, the Bench issued additional instructions to the State for improved implementation while noting that the apex court had already outlined the process for determining whether crackers might be considered as green crackers in the case of Goutam Roy vs. State of West Bengal.

However, it was made clear that these instructions were illustrative and would be in addition to any other actions taken by the State and the Pollution Control Board.

The directions issued are:

“a) No firecrackers other than green crackers bearing QR Code would be sold in the Bazi-Bazar which is proposed to be held in Kolkata on and from 18.10.2022.

b) State Pollution Control Board as well as the Commissioner of Police, Kolkata shall deploy appropriate number of personnel in the Bazi Bazar to ensure implementation of the aforesaid direction.

c) The representatives of the State Pollution Control Board and the police personnel shall be at liberty to inspect the firecrackers which are sold at Bazi Bazar and the police personnel shall seize any banned firecrackers which are offered for sale in the bazar.

d) Representatives of PESO/NEERI shall also be present at the Bazi Bazar and assist the Pollution Control Board/ police personnel to determine whether the firecrackers which are offered for sale bearing the requisite QR Code;

e) Similar exercise shall be undertaken by Pollution Control Board and police authorities to prevent importation and sale of firecrackers other than green firecrackers bearing QR Code in any place in the State of West Bengal;

f) All necessary steps shall be taken by the police authorities/PCB Officials to ensure only green crackers are burst during the festive season strictly in compliance with the directions of the Pollution Control Board vide Memo No. 321-3L/WPBE(VI)/2020 dated 26.10.2021.

g) State Pollution Control Board and the State of West Bengal shall undertake public awareness measures including issuance of advertisements in newspapers, announcements on radio/ television/social media platforms etc. to spread awareness with regard to restrictions on sale and bursting of crackers during festive season and its beneficial impact on pollution and environment. It shall also make members of the public aware of the penal consequences arising from sale and bursting of banned crackers.”

The matter was scheduled for hearing one week following the vacation, and the Board and the State were required to submit a report on the actions done to strictly implement the instructions.

Advocates Tapan Kumar Mukherjee and Saheli Mukherjee defended the petitioner, while NC Bihani, PB Bihani, K Singh, Biswaroop Bhattacharyya, Mayuri Ghosh, Madhushri Dutta, Easha Manchanda, Arnab Sengupta, and Debarshi Dhar defended the respondents.

Case Title: Sabuj Mancha vs. the State of West Bengal

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