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Modifying its recent order fixing the two-hour time slot of 8 pm – 10pm for bursting firecrackers to check the growing air pollution menace, the Supreme Court today (Tuesday, October 30) allowed states, specifically states of south India, to set the time slot according to their practices and traditions.

Whatever the time of the day, the limit will be two hours for fireworks, however, said the top court.

The Bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan refused to make any other dilutions in its recent order which, among other directives, laid out that e-retailing of crackers will be banned completely and that only “green crackers” – those without the poisonous chemical barium – will be manufactured, sold and used during Diwali or on any other occasion.

The apex court was hearing several applications filed by the Tamil Nadu government and firecracker manufacturers seeking modification and clarification of its October 23 order. On Monday, the Tamil Nadu government urged the apex court to allow firecrackers to be burst on Diwali morning in accordance with religious practices in the state, besides the already permitted 8 pm to 10 pm period.

“Diwali is a practice religiously and scrupulously followed by Hindus from time immemorial and it had become a core and essential religious practice which is also protected under Article 25 of the Constitution as their fundamental right,” it said.

Diwali is celebrated in the state early in the morning to commemorate the death of Narakashura, it pointed out.

Several States had pleaded that the court make some relations in the stringent guidelines laid out by it as large scale manufacturing of the fire crackers had already been done.

However, the court declined to entertain these pleas while directing the counsel for Centre and the State to file an affidavit on Wednesday (October 31) regarding use of barium in fire crackers.

On October 23, the top court said people in the country can only burst firecrackers from 8 pm to 10 pm on Diwali and other festivals. It also allowed the manufacture and sale of just “green crackers” which have low emission of light, sound and harmful chemicals.

The apex court carved out an exception for Christmas and the New Year’s Eve, saying crackers on these days could be burst between 11.55 pm and 12.30 am since the celebrations start at midnight.

It also banned the manufacture, sale and use of joined firecrackers, saying they cause “huge air, noise and solid waste problems”.

The apex court said the noise and smoke emission limits of the crackers will have to be approved by the Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organization (PESO), under the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

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