Thursday, September 29, 2022

Delhi’s air quality slips to ‘very poor’ category

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The overall air quality of Delhi has slipped to the ‘very poor’ category on Monday, as the Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) recorded Air Quality Index (AQI) of 302. The agency, however, has predicted that the air quality will “improve to the upper end of poor” due to the expected change in wind direction to westerly/south-westerly reducing transport of emissions from stubble burning.

“Isolated rainfall is likely in the upwind region that would improve air quality,” it added. As per SAFAR, the share of crop residue burning emissions in PM2.5 is about 8 per cent.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Sunday predicted that the air quality in the national capital is likely to be in the lower end of the Very Poor category on November 1-2. “The air quality is likely to remain in the lower end of Very Poor category till November 4 and then deteriorate on November 5-6 significantly. PM2.5 to be the predominant pollutant,” IMD said.

As per government agencies, an AQI within the range of 0-5 is regarded as ‘good’, 51-100 is ‘satisfactory’, 101-200 is ‘moderate’, 201-300 is ‘poor’ and 301-400 is ‘very poor’ and 401-500 is considered ‘severe’.

The Supreme Court had earlier made it clear that there is no total ban on the use of firecrackers and only those crackers containing Barium salts, chemical crackers or found to be injurious to health are banned. “Celebration cannot take place at the cost of the other’s health,” Court noted.

“It is made clear that there is no total ban on the use of firecrackers, only those firecrackers are banned (joined, chemical) which are found to be injurious to health and affect the health of the citizens particularly the senior citizens and the children,” said a Bench of Justices MR Shah and AS Bopanna.

“Under the guise of celebration, nobody can be permitted to infringe the right to health of the others, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India,” said the top court. The Bench said “no authority can be permitted to violate and disobey the direction issued by the Court.”

“We again reiterate the directions issued by this court earlier and reproduced hereinabove including banning the use of Barium Salts in the firecrackers and its manufacturing and selling,” the order of the top court stated. “We direct all the States and Union Territories to see previous directions issued earlier,” it said.

It also added that any lapse on the part of the state governments/state agencies and Union Territories shall be viewed “very seriously”. “If it is found that any banned firecrackers are manufactured, sold and used in any particular area, the Chief Secretary of the concerned States, the Secretary (Homes) and the Commissioner of Police of the concerned area, District Superintendent of Police of the concerned area and the SHO/police officer-in-charge of the concerned police station shall be held personally liable,” it said.

“Nobody can be permitted to flout and/or disobey the directions issued by this Court/Courts. Any willful and deliberate disobedience shall have to be viewed very seriously,” it added. The Bench also said that it is unfortunate that there is a blatant violation of various directions issued by it and it’s reported that sale, manufacturing and use of banned/chemical firecrackers have been continued under the guise of ‘green crackers.

The Bench noted, even though they are banned, the manufacturing, selling and use of joined firecrackers have been continued and the same is being used in blatant violation of the directions issued by this Court. “It is reported that even under the guise of ‘green crackers’, banned chemicals firecrackers are being sold and there is a mislabelling on the boxes and even the QR codes provided on the boxes of ‘green crackers’ are alleged to be fake,” the order stated.

It directed that all States and Union Territories are directed to give due publicity through electronic media/print media/local cable services to make the people aware and know the directions issued by this Court with respect to manufacturing, use and sale of banned firecrackers. The top court was hearing a case regarding the ban on banned firecrackers and restrictions on the sale, manufacture and transportation of crackers.

The Bench also took into consideration the report of CBI into the allegations of fake green crackers being manufactured. Earlier, the apex court said the report of CBI on the use of toxic chemicals such as barium salts in manufacturing firecrackers is “very serious”.

On March 3, 2020, the top court had directed the Joint Director of the CBI at Chennai to carry out a detailed probe regarding the alleged violation of its earlier orders by manufacturers by using the ingredients which have been banned and by mislabelling their products contrary to the directions of the court’s direction. It had sought a CBI report in six weeks.

It had earlier refused to impose a complete ban on the sale of firecrackers and said that sales can happen through only licensed traders and that only green crackers can be sold.

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