The court has now opted for a gradual, graded approach to complete prohibition of the sale and use of fireworks in the NCR over the next few years.
"Concerned law enforcement authorities will ensure that there is no further entry of fireworks into Delhi and the NCR till further orders", the court said.
In a stern action to curb air pollution during the ongoing wedding season, the Supreme Court in November 2016 suspended the licences of all firecracker sellers in Delhi and National Capital Region, virtually banning their sale and purchase.
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.
Regarding the health issues of children and Pollution Court has taken this decision.
On lifting the November 11, 2016 ban, the court said that from the material before them, "it can not be said with any great degree of certainty that the extremely poor quality of air in Delhi in November and December 2016 was the result only of bursting fireworks around Diwali" but this can not "be glossed over".
The top court directed the Delhi Police to reduce grant of temporary licences by about 50 percent of those granted in 2016 and cap it at 500.
The apex courts order came on the application filed by manufacturers and suppliers of fire crackers, primarily based in Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu, seeking relaxation of its earlier order.
"The Delhi Police is directed to reduce the grant of temporary licence by about 50 per cent of the number of licence granted in 2016". However, it has given liberty to the licensees to transport them outside Delhi and the NCR. It observed that only general directions were issued in the past to schools to sensitise the students and staff about the ill-effects and health hazards of bursting fireworks.
"This is disconcerting. It is high time that governmental authorities realise that the cost of ill health (particularly among children) is far greater in psycho-social terms than in financial and economic terms. The health of children should be of foremost concern in this regard", it said. Consequently, a complete ban on the sale of fireworks would be an extreme step that might not be fully warranted by the facts available to us. The order is an interim arrangement as the Bench set up a Committee headed by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) chairman to study the harmful effects of firecrackers on human health and submit a report by December 31.
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