Does the right to clean environment entail legal regulations on burning crackers during Diwali? Discuss in the light of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution and Judgement(s) of the apex court in this regard. 

Does the right to clean environment entail legal regulations on burning crackers during Diwali? Discuss in the light of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution and Judgement(s) of the apex court in this regard. 

Approach:

  • Introduce with Article 21 and why the issues of burning of crackers during Diwali keeps coming up
  • Discuss the need to balance the Right to Religious Freedom (Article 25) and Right to Life (Article 21), and how the SC has refused a blanket ban
  • Discuss why banning is not the solution to clean environment
  • Conclude appropriately
Model Answer :

Article 21 of Indian constitution guarantees Right to Life and Liberty. Subsequent judgements by the apex court (especially after Maneka Gandhi case) have enlarged its scope and right to clean environment has been brought under its ambit.

Issues with burning of crackers:

  • With the various types of crackers, the level of pollution caused is extremely high, which makes the air unbreathable and noise levels intolerable. Almost every year, Delhi and the NCR region witness a spike in pollution level just after Diwali.
  • These regions also report 30% to 40% increased cases of wheezing, respiratory diseases etc. during and post-Diwali.

Balance between Right to Environment and Right to Religious freedom:

  • All freedoms come with certain reasonable restrictions. To ensure the fundamental right to clean environment, the government may take steps to regulate burning crackers during Diwali. But there is a need to balance between Right to Environment and Right to Religious freedom. In 2015, the Supreme Court dismissed a petition which was aimed at putting a blanket ban on bursting of crackers on Diwali or designating a particular place for bursting crackers.

Ban on burning Crackers is not the solution:

  • Totality of causes for pollution need to be tackled: The burning of crackers is just a two day event and only partly contributes to the long term problem of urban pollution especially in the NCR region. Hence, comprehensive measures need to be taken rather than just taking on the bursting of crackers.
  • Cultural Sentiments – A blanket ban on cracker bursting would also be problematic and would annoy the majority of pupulation as bursting crackers during Diwali is a century old tradition.
  • Implementation issue – There are already various restrictions over the type of crackers that can be manufactured and sold. The apex court in 2005 has laid down few essential guidelines relating to firecrackers. Authorities have failed to implement these guidelines.
  • Bursting crackers is matter of individual freedom as well as religious freedom. Worldwide crackers are used to celebrate new year and Christmas festivals.

Conclusion:

  • It is necessary to exercise certain prudence and caution in this situation and best way to go about it is to hoslistically tackle the problem of pollution. Implementing various guidelines along with regulating the bursting of crackers and steps to sensitize people about the environmental problems is a better solution.

Subjects : Current Affairs

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