SC asks Telangana to follow NGT order on sale, bursting of firecrackers

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday modified a Telangana High Court order imposing complete and immediate ban on sale of firecrackers in the state during Diwali, saying the directions of National Green Tribunal (NGT) on bursting of firecrackers keeping in mind the pollution level be followed.

The NGT, on November 9, imposed a total ban on sale or use of all kinds of firecrackers in the National Capital Region (NCR) till November 30 midnight.

It had said the direction of complete ban will apply to all cities and towns in the country where the average of ambient air quality during November 2019 was in ‘poor’ and above categories.

It, however, had said that in cities or towns where air quality is ‘moderate’ or below, only green crackers be sold.

The timings for use and bursting of crackers be restricted to two hours during festivals like Diwali, Chhath, New Year/Christmas Eve, as may be specified by the state concerned,” NGT had said.

The Telangana High Court on November 12 came out with an order asking the state government to ban the sale and use of firecrackers and it was challenged by the Telangana Fire Workers Dealers Association (TFWDA) in the top court.

The vacation bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna issued notice on the plea of TFWDA and said that it cannot stay the High Court’s order without hearing the other side.

The plea said the high court order was violative of the right to livelihood of persons involved in the sale and manufacturing of firecrackers.

Senior advocate Salman Khurshid appeared for the petitioner organization on whose plea the top court issued notice to the state government for November 16.

The bench, meanwhile, asked the Telangana government to comply with directions of the NGT issued on November 9.

“In the meantime, the impugned judgment and order of the High Court stands modified and is brought in line with the directions issued by the National Green Tribunal vide comprehensive order dated November 9, which applies even to Telangana on all fours.

“For, no reason muchless special reason is noted in the impugned order for departing therefrom. All concerned in the State of Telangana must comply with the stated directions of the Tribunal in its letter and spirit ” it ordered.

The top court, in its order, reproduced the directions of the NGT and asked the state to follow them.

The NGT, while banning the sale and bursting of firecrackers, had given some reliefs to places where air quality is `moderate’ or below and had said that green crackers may be used for two hours during festivals, like Diwali, Chatt.

“At other places, ban/restrictions are optional for the authorities but if there are more stringent measures under orders of the authorities, the same will prevail,” it had said.

“All States/UTs/PCBs/PCCs may initiate special drives to contain air pollution from all sources in view of potential aggravation of Covid-19”, it had said.

The Chief Secretaries and DGPs of all the states and Union Territories may issue and circulate an appropriate order in above terms with appropriate enforcement guidelines to all the District Magistrates and Superintendents of Police, it had said.

The CPCB and the state pollution control boards may regularly monitor the air quality during this period which may be uploaded on their respective websites, the NGT had said.

The NGT was hearing the plea on whether use of firecrackers be banned from November 7 to 30 in the interest of public health and environment.

The tribunal’s direction had come on a plea by Indian Social Responsibility Network, filed through Santosh Gupta, seeking action against pollution by use of firecrackers in the NCR during the time air quality is unsatisfactory with the potential of the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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