The Supreme Court yesterday was told by the firecracker manufacturers that firecrackers alone were not the sole reason for rising pollution levels during Diwali though it was one of the contributing factors, and that an entire industry can't be shut down.
A bench of Justice AK Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan, hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking a countrywide ban on manufacturing, sale and possession of firecrackers, was told that pollution has reached very high levels not only because of firecrackers, but also by vehicular pollution, construction dust and stubble burning.
"The question is whether an entire industry can be shut down citing air pollution while other industries are allowed to continue," contended counsel for the firecracker manufacturers.
The counsel told the bench that during Diwali, it brings people together in celebration.
To this Justice Sikri replied, "Diwali is a festival of lights. Firecrackers are not necessary to bring people together. People can be brought together by distributing and sharing sweets also."
The court posted for hearing on August 14 a batch of pleas seeking a country-wide ban on possession, sale and bursting of firecrackers and stubble burning by farmers.
Earlier, the bench had expressed concern over growing respiratory problems among children due to air pollution and had said it would decide whether there has to be a complete or reasonable curb on the use of firecrackers.
The bench had cited a report that said 20-25 per cent children suffer from respiratory diseases, adding: "The lungs of most infants in Delhi are grey."
One of the pleas filed by a child, Arjun Gopal, who is represented by lawyer Gopal Shankarnarayan, sought a ban on possession of firecrackers in the National Capital Region (NCR) as it was contributing to an already alarming level of air pollution.
Last year the top court prohibited the sale of firecrackers in Delhi and NCR during Diwali.