At the outset, let’s not kid ourselves. When it comes to Air Quality, Delhi is one of the worst places in world. Due to pollution and air quality, cases of Asthma are rising dramatically. In winters smog creates havoc. The smog has cascading and snowball effect and it starts to impact day-to-day life. The daily commute to work is a nightmare. Trains and flights get delayed which creates lot of problem….
This week, The Supreme Court of India ordered a ban on cracker sale till October 31st. The primary reason behind this ban is to address the Air Quality and Pollution. Crackers cause lot of air pollution. However, in my personal opinion this ban on cracker sale is not going to solve Delhi’s Air Quality problems. Here are few reasons behind it (I have decided not to go into political reactions and conspiracy theories behind this order and stick only to data and rational thinking) –
- IIT Kanpur conducted a study on this topic. In their report, they’ve listed different causes for Delhi’s air pollution woes. According to this report, Road Dust is at top of the list (Mint has crisp version in case you don’t have time to go through entire report). Vehicle Pollution, Industrial Emission, Hotel / Restaurant, Concrete patching make top 5. Unless these underlying problems are addressed, Delhi’s Air Quality is not going to improve.
- Crackers do find a mention in the report. Due to contents, they do increase Potassium and Barium level by about 10 times. So, this cracker sale ban would provide some relief (but it would not solve all the problems) …
- Now coming to actual order (I am not a lawyer but), I do see some flaws in it –
- First and foremost, the ban is on sale of cracker till October 31st. The judgement doesn’t mention anything about bursting crackers. So, if you’ve some old stock, you can legally burst them without landing in any sort of legal trouble! Times of India has picked up this point. It would be interesting to see how things unfold.
- Now, the order technically says ban on sale. However, if somebody wants to gift or donate crackers, they could still be able to do it.
- The order prohibits sale within NCR region. People can still purchase them outside of that region, bring it in NCR and burst them. One would need to comply with existing laws about carrying crackers via Trains and Buses. As long as those laws are followed, people would legally be able to enjoy Diwali full of crackers.
- After reading through some of reaction on Twitter, we may actually see some retaliatory behavior. I fear we are actually going to see this. People do acknowledge crackers cause pollution. And on their own, they have limited their own usage. However, with court stepping in and putting a blanket ban on sale, this may result in people changing their behavior just to make a point.
- Current SC order prohibits sale till October 31st There are other occasions when people use crackers. Christmas and New Year celebrations do use Crackers (not be as heavy as Diwali). It remains to be seen what next steps are taken after current Nov 1st.
Let’s get real. Blanket ban on sale is not going to solve this problem of Air Quality. This problem is not limited to Delhi. Need of the hour is to have regulations and emission standards for crackers similar to Vehicle. I know this is going to be a big challenge and unless that happens, underlying problem still going to be there….