New Delhi: Holding that the health of people takes precedence over any commercial interest, the Supreme Court on Tuesday imposed certain restrictions on the sale and use of firecrackers in the national capital region (NCR).

Ahead of Diwali, a bench headed by justice Madan B. Lokur laid down a total of 16 guidelines to check the use of firecrackers for its adverse impact on air pollution and public health.

Under one such guideline, the court directed the Delhi police to reduce the grant of temporary licences by 50% than those issued in 2016.

The court also vacated its order of 11 November under which it had suspended permanent licences for sale of firecrackers. It was, however, clarified that the sale of fireworks under the licences must be in compliance with the Explosive Rules.

The apex court reiterated the application of its 31 July order, prohibiting the use of compounds of antimony, lithium, mercury, arsenic and lead in the manufacture of fireworks. In addition, the use of strontium chromate in manufacture of fireworks also stands prohibited.

Citing lack of clarity on the safety limits of various metals and constituents used in fireworks, the court directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Fluid Dynamics Research Centre (FDRC) to carry out a study, laying down appropriate standards for ambient air quality in relation to the bursting of fireworks and the release of their constituents in the air. The report has to be submitted by 30 September.

Banning the transport of fireworks for sale in NCR, the court prohibited transport of fireworks from outside the region and directed the concerned law enforcement authorities to ensure its implementation.

On 25 November 2016, the apex court had banned the manufacture and sale of firecrackers in NCR to stem air pollution in Delhi and neighbouring towns.

The court had directed the Centre to suspend the licences of firecracker manufacturers and sellers and not hand out fresh licences until further orders from the court.

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