Ahead of the Diwali festivities, the Supreme Court extended its ban on barium-made fireworks across all states to curb air pollution. On November 7, the top court clarified that there is “no total ban on the use of firecrackers” and “only those firecrackers” that are injurious to health “are banned”.
“…this Court in the course of dealing with the petition, has passed several orders where the steps have been indicated to minimize and to avoid air as well as noise pollution. Hence, the said orders would bind every State in this country…,” the Supreme Court’s order read.
Earlier this year on October 29, the top court had reiterated its ban on fireworks containing barium, barium salts, barium nitrate and joined fireworks saying if allowed, it would be a “retrograde step” towards the efforts to combat air and noise pollution.
What does this mean for the Diwali celebrations across the country? Can we burst firecrackers?
Yes, green fireworks are permitted in some states, but there are certain terms and conditions.
The Supreme Court has permitted the sale of green crackers or barium-free crackers only even as state governments have implemented their own orders. High Courts across the country have also weighed in and passed orders permitting firecrackers for a limited period.
BOOM looks at the rules and regulations imposed by various states across the country.
Complete ban on all fireworks in Delhi
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led government on September 11 reinforced its complete ban on firecrackers as part of Chief Minister (CM) Arvind Kejriwal’s ‘winter action plan’ aimed at controlling air pollution.
The ban includes the sale, manufacture, storage and bursting of all crackers including green crackers.
Green fireworks allowed for 3 hours in Mumbai; 2 hours in Punjab, Haryana, Karnataka
The Bombay High Court on November 6 did not ban but opened a three-hour window to burst firecrackers in Mumbai. Residents of the city can burst low-emission, or green fireworks between 7 pm – 10 pm only.
“We have to make a choice. Either we have a disease-free environment, or we burn firecrackers and celebrate the festival. Citizens must decide now,” the high court said.
Meanwhile, to combat air pollution, the Punjab government permitted the sale of green crackers through licensed traders for limited hours on Gurpurab, Diwali, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve while banning the online sale of fireworks.
Manufacture, stocking, sale, and bursting of joined fireworks have been entirely banned.
For the residents of Punjab, fireworks will be allowed on Diwali (8 pm – 10 pm), Gurpurab (4 am – 5 am & 9 pm to 10 pm), Christmas Eve (11.55 pm – 12.30 am), and New Year's Eve (11.55 pm – 12.30 am).
Gurugram administration imposed a ban on fireworks—except green crackers—starting November 1. Like Punjab, the Haryana administration has also permitted the bursting of green crackers for limited hours on Diwali, Gurpurab, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve.
Similar restrictions have been imposed in Karnataka as well.
Bursting crackers at “odd hours” banned: Kerala High Court
Kerala High Court on November 7 allowed its residents to burst crackers from 6 am – 10 pm. However, with the Supreme Court orders in force only green crackers will be permitted. The high court also allowed the bursting of crackers during Thrissur Pooram since it is an integral part of the festival celebrations.
In line with the apex court orders, there is a complete ban on bursting any fireworks between 10 pm - 6 am. The district administration will decide whether to permit the bursting of crackers at “odd hours” on a case-by-case basis.
Green crackers with QR codes only will be sold: West Bengal
The West Bengal administration has allowed the sale of only those green crackers which have QR codes. Firecrackers will be sold at four main markets – Tala, Maidan, Behala, and Kalikapur, from November 6 to November 12 from 10 am – 10 pm.
The bursting of these crackers has also been limited to a few hours on Diwali, Chhatt Puja (6 am to 8 am), Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve.
Bihar Ban on Fireworks in cities, allowed in rest of state
Bihar pollution board has banned all fireworks in Patna, Gaya, Muzaffarpur, and Hajipur while allowing the bursting of green crackers in the rest of the state. The state government’s decision follows the increase in AQI levels across Patna and other cities.
The state government said the ban was imposed following directions from the National Green Tribunal (NGT) which regulates bursting of crackers based on the air pollution index levels of the area.