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SC ban on crackers on Diwali in Delhi-NCR not very effective

The PM2.5 and PM10, or particles with diameter less than 2.5 and 10 micrometers, in Delhi NCR was 164 and 292 microgrammes per cubic meter.



Green crackers
Representative Picture of Crackers

New Delhi, Nov 7 (IANS) Despite the Supreme Courts directives, people in Delhi-NCR on Wednesday continued to burst crackers on Diwali well past the 10 p.m. deadline though the air quality index (AQI) showed a slight improvement over last year.

The Supreme Court had limited the time for bursting crackers between 8-10 p.m. on Diwali, but people started bursting crackers soon after sunset around 6 p.m. and continued well after 10 p.m.

Also, the apex court had banned the sale of traditional crackers and allowed only “green crackers” in Delhi-NCR, but there was no clarity as to how many people could procure these, or the ones not containing the polluting barium salts.

Delhi Police spokesman Madhur Verma said data was not immediately available at how many places the police took action against those flouting the Supreme Court directive on Diwali day.

Ravi Sharma, a journalist residing in East Delhi said that he could not find crackers in Delhi for his child but his neighbours did.

“I could not buy even a phuljhadi (sparkler) or anar (fountain) for my child but some of my neighbours have arranged the crackers through some jugaad (improvisation) and they are bursting them now,” Sharma told IANS.

Similar stories came in from other parts of the city such as Mayur Vihar, Dwarka and New Friends Colony.

In Ghaziabad, an IANS correspondent who went around the town was witness to violations in the posh Raj Nagar and Kavi Nagar localities, where almost all district and police officers reside.

Though some firecrackers went off from 5 p.m., the frequency rapidly went up as the sun set.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a senior police officer admitted that it was very difficult to implement the Supreme Court order.

The air quality in the national capital and surrounding areas on Wednesday was recorded as “very poor”, a slight improvement from last year’s Diwali night.

The Supreme Court’s strict directive and a moderately high wind speed appeared to be the reason the Air Quality Index (AQI) did not reach the “severe” level.

The AQI at 9 p.m. was 291, according to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). Last Diwali, the AQI was recorded at 326.

The PM2.5 and PM10, or particles with diameter less than 2.5 and 10 micrometers, in Delhi NCR was 164 and 292 microgrammes per cubic meter.

The permissible limit for PM2.5 and PM10 is 60 and 80 units by national standards and 25 and 50 units by international standards.

The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), weather forecasting body under Ministry of Earth Science, said the moisture in the air on Wednesday was normal, thus reducing the air holding capacity.

It warned that the air quality in the region could be bad on Thursday. On Wednesday night it said the key weather parameter was the good wind speed and if it reduces, the levels of PM 2.5 could increase.

The Delhi fire department received 209 calls till 10 p.m though no fatality was reported. The only major incident was that of a fire at a factory in Bawana where 18 fire tenders were pressed into service.


Mumbai bar dancers hail Supreme Court verdict



Mumbai dance bars
Representative Image

Mumbai, Jan 17: Bar dancers, who were abruptly rendered jobless after the Maharashtra government shut down dance bars on August 15, 2005, hailed the Supreme Court verdict permitting conditional re-opening of these joints, here on Thursday.

Read More: Supreme Court allows Mumbai dance bars to reopen with restrictions

Bharatiya Bar Girls’ Union (BBGU) President Varsha Kale said that the dancers have been fighting for it since nearly 15 years and finally now the dance bars have been allowed to resume operations.

“The closure in 2005 left many thousands suddenly unemployed, many fell ill and died. Their female children were forced into prostitution. But, now things should change,” Kale, a co-petitioner for re-starting dance bars, told IANS shortly after the verdict.

However, official sources said on Thursday that the government was still not in favour of re-starting dance bars and might consider going in for a review plea in the Supreme Court.

A former dancer in a prominent suburban bar, Kiran M., said that the verdict will provide jobs to lakhs of semi-literate girls who throng Mumbai from all across the country for employment opportunities but are rejected by different organisations.

“They don’t get proper jobs as they lack either qualifications or experience. Many end up doing low-paying menial jobs, or fall victim to social evils. Now, with the dance bars getting a green signal, we are hopeful of a better future,” she explained.

Kale said that the stakeholders would study the issue pertaining to the licensing norms of the Maharashtra government, which was challenged.

“We don’t expect dance bars to become functional immediately till the licensing authorities do the needful, though there is a huge demand from various quarters.”

The dance bars were shut down during the erstwhile Congress-Nationalist Congress Party rule by the then Home Minister, the late R. R. Patil.

During its heydays, there were an estimated five-six lakhs dancers working in 2,800 legal and many other unauthorised dance bars spread across Mumbai, Thane, Raigad, Pune, adjacent to state highways, supporting a few lakh others comprising support staffer, allied businesses and families.


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Supreme Court allows Mumbai dance bars to reopen with restrictions



Mumbai dance bars
Representative Image

Mumbai, Jan 17: The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed dance bars to reopen in Mumbai but imposed regulations such as barring CCTV surveillance.

It said there was no need for CCTV surveillance inside dance bars as it violates privacy.

The apex court said that the performers could be tipped, but showering of cash and coins will not be allowed inside the bars.

The court added that Maharashtra cannot ban dance bars by taking recourse to regulating them, noting that since 2005 no licence has been issued.

“Since 2005 till date, no licence has been issued. There may be regulation but that does not amount to total prohibition,” said a bench of Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan.

Pronouncing the judgment, Justice Sikri said that there could be no segregation of dance stage and that of drinking and eating space as it struck down the provision for “mandatory” installing of CCTV cameras in the dance bars holding that it violates privacy.

The court upheld the definition of obscenity given in the State law saying that it was not vague.

Holding that those visiting the dance bar could give tips, the court said no to the showering of money during dance performances.

The court held as “unreasonable” the provision that says that a dance bar should be one kilometre away from religious places, hospitals and educational institutions.

However, it left it to the state legislature to take a call on the issue.

Striking down the provision that said that the owner of the dance bar should have a “good character” and no “criminal antecedents”, the court said: “There is no precise definition of what amounts to good character and criminal antecedents.”


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Cold, foggy Thursday morning in Delhi



Delhi cold morning fog
File Photo

New Delhi, Jan 17: Delhiites on Thursday woke up to a cold, foggy morning with the minimum temperature recorded at 4.2 degrees Celsius. N

“Shallow to moderate fog enveloped the city in the morning, with the visibility at 8.30 a.m. recorded at 400 metres at Safdarjung,” an India Meteorological Department (IMD) official told news agency IANS.

The sky will remain clear with haze thereafter, he said, adding that the humidity was recorded at 100 per cent in the morning.

According to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), the overall air quality of the national capital was recorded in ‘very poor’ category with the air quality index being at 346.

On Wednesday, the maximum temperature was recorded at 21.3 degrees Celsius, a notch above the season’s average.


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