HC asks Gujarat govt to ban 'sky lanterns' during Uttarayan

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court today asked the state government to ban manufacturing, sale and use of sky lanterns within two days, noting that these small hot-air balloons, launched during the kite-flying festival on the occasion of Uttarayan, are known to start fires.

The bench of acting Chief Justice Jayant Patel and Justice V M Pancholi passed the order on a public interest litigation filed by Mehsana resident Jivanbhai Rabari.

The PIL said that last time 21 incidents of fire caused by sky lanterns were reported in Ahmedabad city alone. In an incident in Ramol area, three children were charred to death as several huts caught fire after a lantern landed on one of them.

The petition was filed in February. In their affidavits, the state government and the police have admitted that sky lanterns are hazardous.

As the final order of the HC is yet to come, the petitioner had sought an interim order as this year's kite flying festival is approaching.

The HC noted during the hearing that a majority of the victims of fires caused by sky lanterns are poor people.

It directed the state Home Secretary to issue a notification announcing the ban in two days.

The ban shall be in operation till January 3

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