The Supreme Court yesterday refused to order a blanket ban on firecrackers on Diwali. Yet, it expressed displeasure over the central government’s failure to carry out its earlier directive, to give wide publicity to the ill effects of the bursting of crackers, and the sound and air pollution it causes.

It has directed the central government to start the publicity campaign to educate people, and prohibited the bursting of firecrackers from 10 pm to 6 am.

While court orders and rules are one thing, it is people who should burst crackers with discretion, common sense and a healthy respect for others. Try to find an open space when bursting crackers. Easier said than done in a city where space is at a premium, but if one does have access to some open space, it is safer to burst crackers there.

As far as possible, one should avoid bursting crackers right under hospital buildings or in the vicinity, with respect for the patients, many of course who would be old and infirm, and yet others with grievous illnesses even fighting for their life. If that is unavoidable, at least go in for ‘silent’ crackers, ones that burst with colour and light, not noise.

The trend is to burn firecrackers on the roads even as pedestrians and vehicles dodge and weave past in an impossibly crowded city.

Pedestrians have to look sharp, especially at night when most crackers are burst, as those bursting crackers hare across the road after lighting them. Crackers go off, often literally at the feet of unsuspecting pedestrians. Most times they are fortunate, the crackers burst alarming them, but, at some times they have had dire and tragic consequences, resulting in horrendous injuries. Those lighting rockets need to have caution literally branded into them, as wrongly lit rockets have flown into homes or severely injured passersby in the past.

Car drivers and passengers too are not exempt from danger. A lit cracker under a moving car, or right in front of a car is ominous. Use the big Cs, caution and common sense when bursting crackers. It takes one careless spark to turn the festival of lights into that of gloom.