NGT Calls for Strict Compliance with Firecracker Restrictions


LI Network

Published on: October 28, 2023 at 10:54 IST

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) in Bhopal has issued a stern call for strict compliance with the regulations and restrictions on the use of firecrackers, emphasizing that celebrations should not come at the cost of public health. In a recent directive, the NGT stressed that the right to health, especially for senior citizens and children, cannot be infringed upon under the guise of celebration.

The NGT, comprising judicial member Justice Sheo Kumar Singh and expert member Dr. Afroz Ahmad, stated that celebration cannot be allowed to jeopardize the fundamental right to health enshrined in Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. It made it clear that while there is no complete ban on firecrackers, only those deemed injurious to the health of citizens, particularly children and the elderly, have been prohibited.

The tribunal further warned authorities not to permit the use of any banned firecrackers under the pretext of celebrations, stressing the need for strict adherence to these guidelines.

This directive from the NGT aligns with previous orders from the Supreme Court, which in 2018 had banned certain categories of firecrackers and prescribed specific time slots for their use during festivals. In 2021, the apex court also issued directives to take action against those selling banned firecrackers.

To ensure compliance with these directions, the Home Ministry of the Madhya Pradesh government issued instructions in October 2021 for the inspection and testing of firecrackers and obtaining undertakings from sellers to adhere to the government’s regulations. However, these instructions were not consistently followed, resulting in non-compliance with court orders.

Consequently, an execution application was filed before the Central Zonal Bench of the NGT to enforce earlier directions, leading to the recent call for stricter compliance.

The NGT pointed out that in 2020, its principal bench had banned the sale and use of firecrackers during Diwali in areas with poor, very poor, or severe air quality. In areas with moderate or better air quality, only green crackers were allowed for two hours during festivals.

However, a recent order from the NGT bench in Bhopal on October 19 revealed that banned firecrackers were still being sold, sometimes disguised as green crackers, leading to a blatant violation of earlier directives.

The NGT reaffirmed that it is the responsibility of the states to ensure the strict compliance of directions issued by the Supreme Court, NGT, and the government. Any lapses by state governments and union territories in enforcing these regulations will be taken seriously.

The NGT held that if banned firecrackers are found to be manufactured, sold, or used in any particular area, key officials, including the Chief Secretary, Secretary (Homes), Commissioner of Police, District Superintendent of Police, and the SHO/Police Officer in-charge, will be held personally liable.

Additionally, the NGT directed district magistrates in Gwalior, Indore, Bhopal, and Jabalpur to monitor air quality periodically and take necessary actions to maintain suitable air quality in their respective cities.

The matter is scheduled for further hearing on November 8, underscoring the significance of adhering to firecracker regulations to safeguard public health.

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