With less than two weeks to Diwali, the Supreme Court has banned sale of fireworks in Delhi. As a consequence, traders who had the licenses to sell fireworks will no longer be able to do so.
Delhi has massive problems with pollution. The question is: Would Supreme Court’s order help?
The court’s order applies only on sale, not on the use of fireworks. Those who understand the realities of India know that the decision will either result in black market for fireworks, or at worst people will buy them from adjoining areas of Delhi.
Traders who have stocked themselves with fireworks are now stuck. Did anyone think about the losses they would suffer? These are often very poor people, living at extreme margins of the society. Would they not instead pay bribes to the police to be allowed to sell?
Should the court not have taken the decision to ban much before traders started stocking up? Or is this decision a mere virtue signal, which will have no impact on pollution, but will only harm poor traders—about who no one cares—and increase corruption?
Yes, something needs to be done about Delhi’s pollution. But it seems that Supreme Court’s current decision will likely have done nothing to alleviate the pollution problem, and instead worsened the situation of poor traders and the status of corruption.
Author: Jayant Bhandari.