SC bans sale of crackers in Delhi

Why In News ?

The Supreme Court on Monday banned the sale of firecrackers in the Delhi-National Capital Region during the upcoming festive season of Diwali.

FACTS (For Prelims)

CPCB

STATUTORY BODY

1.The Central Government constituted the, ‘Central Board for the Prevention and Control of Water Pollution’, in, 1974 under the provisions of The Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1974. The name of the Central Board was later amended to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

 

2.Since 1981 the Central Pollution Control Board has been entrusted with the added responsibilities of Air Pollution Control under the provisions of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.

 

FUNCTIONS

i)To promote cleanliness of streams and wells in different areas of the States through prevention, control and abatement of water pollution;

ii) To improve the quality of air and to prevent, control or abate air pollution in the country.

iii)Advise the Central Government  on matters related to Pollution

iv)Plan and cause to be executed a nationwide programme for the prevention, control or abatement of water and air pollution;

v)Coordinate the activities of the State Boards  and also provide  technical assistance and guidance .

vi)Establish or recognize laboratories

vii)Disseminate information in respect of matters relating to water and air pollution and their prevention and control.

AIR POLLUTION

It  can be defined as the presence of toxic chemicals or compounds (including those of biological origin) in the air, at levels that pose a health risk. In an even broader sense, air pollution means the presence of chemicals or compounds in the air which are usually not present and which lower the quality of the air or cause detrimental changes to the quality of life (such as the damaging of the ozone layer or causing global warming).

 

NATIONAL AMBIENT AIR QUALITY STANDARDS

Ambient air quality refers to the condition or quality of air surrounding us in the outdoors. National Ambient Air Quality Standards are the standards for ambient air quality set by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) that is applicable nationwide. The CPCB has been conferred this power by the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.

AIR QUALITY INDEX

National Air Quality Index (AQI) was launched in  2014 to disseminate information on air quality in an easily understandable form for the general public. The measurement of air quality is based on eight pollutants-

i)Particulate Matter (size less than 10 µm) or (PM10),

ii)Particulate Matter (size less than 2.5 µm) or (PM2.5),

iii)Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2),

iv)Sulphur Dioxide (SO2),

v)Carbon Monoxide (CO),

vi)Ozone (O3),

vii)Ammonia (NH3), and

viii)Lead (Pb)

SAFAR

System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research  or SAFAR was introduced by Union Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) for greater metropolitan cities of India to provide location specific information on air quality in real time.

It was developed by Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune along with India Meteorological Department (IMD) and National Centre for fMedium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF).

 

The main objective of SAFAR project is to increase awareness among general public regarding the air quality.

STATISTICS

1.WHO reports that air pollution is the number one environmental health risk. In 2012, about 3 million premature deaths were attributable to ambient air pollution.

2.The estimated cost of ambient air pollution in terms of the value of lives lost and ill health in OECD countries, India and China is more than $3.5 trillion annually.

3.Joint study by the World Bank and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation found that the aggregate cost of premature deaths due to air pollution was more than $5 trillion worldwide in 2013 alone.

4.In East and South Asia, welfare losses related to air pollution were about 7.5% of GDP.

5.The 2016 GreenPeace India Report states that India had more people dying every day as a result of outdoor air pollution in 2015 than China – a first since 1990.

ANALYSIS (For Mains)

The Supreme Court on Monday suspended the sale of firecrackers in Delhi and NCR till November 1, 2017 in a bid to test whether a Deepavali without firecrackers this year will have a “positive effect” on the health of citizens and a steadily deteriorating air quality.

BACKGROUND

Burning of  firecrackers during Deepavali in 2016 had shot up pm [particulate matter] levels by three times, making Delhi the worst city in the world, as far as  air pollution is concerned.

ARGUMENTS IN FAVOUR

1.Breathing polluted air (specifically PM2.5, particulates smaller than 2.5 microns) is extremely  harmful for human health .

Of the five pollutants that populate our Air Quality Index, Sox Nox, CO, Ozone and PM2.5, it is that last solid particulate matter that causes the worst irreversible harm to our organs .

2.The toxic impact of air pollution on our liver, kidneys, reproductive organs and brain, causes not just cardiopulmonary and respiratory damage but also cancer and strokes.

3.Air pollution scientists and doctors have emphasised that the contribution of high episodic air pollution events cause increased all-cause mortality and have a  trigger impact on those with pre-existing respiratory and cardiac ailments especially the elderly and young children, since the effects of  firecrackers remain in the air for up to one month after Diwali.

4.The ban on firecrackers this year provides an opportunity  for monitoring stations and air pollution scientists to take accurate measurements after Diwali this year and compare it with the previous years to come out with a clear picture about the effect of firecrackers .

MAJOR  DRAWBACKS

1.The order comes so close to the festival on October 19 that makes it extremely difficult for authorities to enforce it.

2.As per reports, this could lead to losses to the tune of Rs 1,000 crore as NCR makes up almost 20-25% of the total firecracker market in the country. Most manufacturers take orders from traders in advance and the bulk of supplies are made in the last week before Diwali.

3.The air quality in NCR is at most affected for a week by firecrackers during a period of 52 weeks. The remainder weeks witness high pollution levels mainly due to road-dust, vehicular pollution and burning of bio-mass as per a report by IIT Kanpur.

4.The use of diesel generators is prevalent in most parts of NCR to compensate for acute shortage of electricity which add to the rising PM10 levels.

5.Construction is a roaring business in NCR and most of the brick supply comes from kilns from areas like Noida, Ghaziabad, and Sohna which also add to the pollution. There is no uniform policy among Delhi, UP and Haryana to deal with these problems.

6.The court order goes against the popular cultural sentiment around Diwali

SOURCE-The Hindu (OCTOBER 10, 2017)  ,The Economic Times (Oct 10, 2017,)

 

QUESTION

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently reported that 13 of the 20 international cities with the worst fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in air pollution are in India, and Delhi is at the top of the list.In this context critically analyse the measures taken to curb air polution ,in the NCR .