Customers browse at a firecracker and fireworks stall in Mumbai. Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

Supreme Court’s ‘Green Crackers’ Won’t Be Available Anytime Soon

The Supreme Court wants a greener, cleaner Diwali but that may be near impossible, at least this year.

The top court, hearing a clutch of petitions seeking a complete ban on firecrackers to curb pollution that engulfs the national capital region every year after Diwali, ruled that only eco-friendly or “green crackers” would be allowed. These, according to the judgment, are fireworks with lower emissions and noise levels.

Supreme Court’s ‘Green Crackers’ Won’t Be Available Anytime Soon

“There’s nothing called green crackers,” said Vijay Panjwani, advocate for the Central Pollution Control Board, one of the agencies whose suggestions were part of the government’s affidavit proposing “green crackers” as an environmentally safe option. The Supreme Court accepted parts of the affidavit.

The Supreme Court used the term ‘green cracker’ which means very harmful chemicals used to emit different kinds of lights are not to be used now.
Vijay Panjwani, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court.

Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu is India’s largest hub for making firecrackers. K Mariappan, general secretary of Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers Association, said, “This Diwali, don’t dream of it.” It will take at least four years to actually make firecrackers as per the norms laid down in the judgment, he said.

Today there is no green cracker, there is no eco-friendly cracker. Some scientist cannot give a prescription and say you should follow this.
K Mariappan, General Secretary, TANFAMA.

Apart from the challenge of actually manufacturing “green crackers” in time for the festive season, another hurdle is implementation. The Supreme Court ruled that firecrackers can be burst only between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Diwali and other festivals; and between 11.55 p.m. and 12.30 a.m. on Christmas and New Year. The rules have to be enforced by the police, and the station house officer in charge of the local police station would be held personally responsible and liable for contempt in case of any violation.

“This cannot be part of policing,” said Environmental Activist Vimlendu Jha, who has been advocating a complete ban on firecrackers. For now, the Supreme Court has considered a graded approach rather than a complete ban. Implementing this may prove to be a huge challenge, he said.