Dussehra
A Hindu man lights firecrackers before an effigy of 10-headed demon king Ravana is burnt during Dussehra festival celebrations in Ahmedabad [Reuters]

The Supreme Court on Friday said that it is planning to limit the cracker burning time between 5 pm and 10 pm on Diwali day in response to a petition filed by three infants. 

In the public interest litigation (PIL) reportedly filed through their lawyer-fathers, Arjun Gopal and Aarav Bhandari, both 6 months, and 14-month-old Zoya Rao Bhasin, said that burning of firecrackers during the forthcoming festive season would further pollute the already polluted air as well as harm their health.

Hearing the PIL, the bench of Chief Justice HL Dattu and Amitava Roy directed solicitor general Ranjit Kumar and additional solicitor general Maninder Singh to contact the respective departments in the state governments and arrive with a response within a week. The petitioners' counsel, advocate AM Singhvi, has six suggestions and has been posted for 27 October, The Times of India reported.

"The right to breathe clean air is essential for a conducive environment, which is needed for their growth and development," the PIL said, according to a report by The Indian Express.

It added that in October and November, when Dussehra and Diwali are celebrated, the "massive risks of lung disease" increases because "smoke from firecrackers clogs the atmosphere."

The PIL also asked the apex court to spread awareness among people about the adverse effects of burning firecrackers through the electronic and print media.

However, the court turned down the PIL's suggestion to keep 7 pm to 9 pm as cracker burning time. 

Kaliswari Fireworks Pvt Ltd – one of the largest fireworks manufacturers from Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu – moved the apex court to become a party to the petition, saying a verdict on the petition would affect them commercially. 

Counsel for Kaliswari Fireworks, Rohini Musa, claimed Chinese firecrackers imported into India at relatively cheaper prices "have been determined as being hazardous to health and environment as these fireworks do not meet the prescribed standards" and said that "Chinese fireworks are primarily made up of high quantities of potassium chlorate which accelerates the combustibility of the said fireworks."

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