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SC admits pan-India cracker ban plea

An assortment of crackers in Champahati in South 24-Parganas ahead of Kali Puja last year

Calcutta: A two-member bench of the Supreme Court on Friday admitted green activist Subhas Datta's petition, seeking a ban on the manufacture, sale and bursting of crackers in the country.

The apex court had banned the manufacture, sale and bursting of crackers in Delhi and NCR during last Diwali in view of the pollution there.

The bench of Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan admitted the petition despite opposition of the cracker lobby.

The bench directed the matter to be listed for hearing after two weeks.

"We sought the court's ban for the entire country... on crackers and non-crackers, which is known for its potential to pollute the air... if that isn't possible now, set up standards for emission of air pollutants from various fireworks like the emission standards applicable to vehicles," R.Venkataraman, the lawyer representing Datta in the apex court, told Metro.

The petition referred the report of the Central Pollution Control Board how unrestrained bursting of crackers during Diwali result in high levels of air pollution across the country, including in Calcutta.

Metro has reported in the past air pollution in Calcutta during Diwali is almost nine to 10 times the permissible limit because of non-stop bursting of crackers.

If air pollution from crackers is critical to Delhi residents and need to be stopped, so is it for a city like Calcutta whose population density and exposure to air pollution is far more than Delhi, Datta said.

"The air pollution caused by particulate matter as well as toxic pollutants such as carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide significantly increases around Diwali because of bursting of crackers," pulmonologist Alok Gopal Ghoshal of the National Allergy Asthma Bronchitis Institute (NAABI) said.

"The combined nature of pollution triggers various forms of respiratory diseases, especially among the elderly, children. Our clinic records almost a 15 per cent rise in patients during Diwali."

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