The Supreme Court of India has banned fireworks manufacturers from using five dangerous chemical substances that stir up air and noise pollution, an order that is likely to mean firecrackers with reduced sound and light effects this Diwali.
The substances barred are lithium, antimony, mercury, arsenic and lead.
Lithium is a metal used to impart red colour to fireworks, while antimony is used to create glitter effects. Lead oxide provides a special crackling effect which, if inhaled, in high concentration could cause damage to the nervous system.
A bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta banned the use of the substances in the manufacture of firecrackers after senior officers of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation (PESO) briefed the court about their impact.
The court also directed CPCB and PESO to lay down standards with regard to the chemical composition of firecrackers.
The role of Diwali fireworks in stoking pollution is a hotly debated issue. It has been pointed out that Diwali is a one-day event celebrated once every year and questions are raised on whether such restrictions can have lasting effects on curbing pollution. On the other hand, fireworks are also a frequent part of weddings and, sometimes, even birthday celebrations.
“It will take some time to arrive at the standards and it will be done by September 15, at the latest. In the meanwhile, we direct that no firecrackers manufactured by the companies shall contain these chemicals in any form whatsoever. It is the responsibility of the PESO to ensure compliance,” said Dr A B Akolkar, member secretary of CPCB.
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