Spike in PM2.5 levels has serious health implications: SC

New Delhi: The Supreme Court said a spike in PM2.5 levels in the air is a severe problem as the particulate matter remains in people’s lungs, leading to serious health implications.

A bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan made the observation while hearing a plea seeking a countrywide ban on use of firecrackers.

“If even for one day the PM2.5 level goes up, it gets into your lungs and will remain inside,” the bench said.

Senior advocate C A Sundaram, appearing for firecrackers manufacturers, told the bench that use of firecrackers should not be completely banned and it should instead be strictly regulated.

“I am with regulation. It is not a matter of banning. It might need some more regulations,” he told the apex court.

Citing the data by pollution control boards, he said crackers were not the reason for increase in air pollution and there were other factors, like wind and temperature, which contribute to it.

“Argument was made (by the petitioner) that during Diwali, pollution (levels) go up in the entire country. But, the data does not support this argument,” he said.

The bench agreed with Sundaram’s submissions that crop burning in States like Punjab was also a factor causing pollution in the national capital.

The senior lawyer also raised the issue whether the firecracker manufacturers can be deprived of their right to do business based on statements which were not supported by facts.

The court also said it would have to balance the rights of the people and rights of firecracker manufacturers. “Balancing has to be there,” the bench said.

On 9 October last year, the top court temporarily banned the sale of firecrackers ahead of Diwali.

Later, the court refused to relax its order while dismissing a plea by traders who had sought permission to sell crackers for at least a day or two before Diwali on 19 October, 2017.

The apex court said its ban order during Diwali that year was an experiment to examine its effect on the pollution levels in the region.