SC chides Delhi government for 'lethargic' drive against fireworks

The Supreme Court on Tuesday took a dig at the Delhi government, saying that all its directions to create awareness on the hazards of bursting fireworks was “merely paperwork” and its awareness campaigns have been “allowed to drift” and become “lethargic” during the last one year.

“It seems to us that the steps so far taken by the Government of NCT of Delhi are limited to issuing directions, which is merely paperwork”, said the bench comprising of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta in its judgment.

Saying that directions issued were general in nature, Justice Lokur said: “No specific plan of action has been laid down … to make children aware of the hazards of bursting fireworks and the existing awareness campaigns have been allowed to drift over the last one year. There is no information on the success or failure of these campaigns.”

Describing the response of Delhi government as “lethargic with the absence of any keenness to take proactive steps”, the court said: “This is disconcerting. It is high time that governmental authorities realize that the cost of ill health (particularly among children) is far greater in psycho-social terms than in financial and economic terms.”

“The adage that ‘prevention is better than cure’ is fully applicable in the present circumstances,” the judgment said.

Similarly, the court said that Delhi police has issued directions that are difficult to enforce such as restricting the time during which fireworks can be burst.

“These are ad hoc measures that might be workable (if at all) only for the immediate future. We have not been informed of the impact of such directions or their implementation,” the court said.

It added that there was no response from the states within the NCR giving the “impression that air pollution is not a problem for the state governments despite the ill-effects and health hazards of bursting fireworks”.

As a cautionary, the court said: “There must be a concerted effort to ensure awareness and sensitization of the people in Delhi and NCR, particularly children, of the health hazards of indiscriminate use of fireworks. Unless urgent steps are taken, there could be an adverse impact on the health of children and this would be to nobody’s benefit but to everybody’s detriment.”

Referring to the choking effect of breathing in polluting air post 2016 Diwali, the court said: “In the absence of any concerted plan of action implemented by the governmental authorities, the residents responded in an ad hoc manner by purchasing face masks and air purifiers. There is no doubt that an effective and longer lasting solution is necessary.”