The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to make its stand clear on steps to curb pollution and about the ill-effects of firecrackers on public health, saying that there was a need to strike a balance between the right to health and the right to carry on a trade or profession.
A bench of Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan asked the Centre to file an affidavit detailing short-term steps and the plan to curb pollution due to bursting of firecrackers.
The bench said that there is a fundamental right to livelihood of firecrackers manufacturers involved as well as the fundamental right to health for 130 crore citizens of the country.
The court was hearing a PIL that sought a countrywide ban on manufacture, sale and possession of firecrackers.
Earlier, the firecracker manufacturers had told the top court that crackers alone were not the sole cause of rising pollution during Diwali though it was one of the contributing factors, and that an entire industry can''t be shut down on this count.
The manufacturers contended that pollution had reached very high levels not only due to firecrackers but also 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 the counsel for the manufacturers.
The court posted for August 21 a batch of pleas that sought a countrywide 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 curbs on bursting 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, represented by lawyer Gopal Shankarnarayan, sought a ban on possession of firecrackers in the National Capital Region as it was contributing to an already alarming air pollution.
Last year, the top court prohibited the sale of firecrackers in NCR-Delhi during Diwali.