Over the past week, a number of states in the country have banned the selling and bursting of firecrackers in connection with the Diwali season that is around the corner. Some states have announced a total ban, while others have prohibited the use of ‘imported’ firecrackers. Some are states however, are reversing their decision to ban.
On November 9, in an order, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has imposed a total ban on sale and use of firecrackers in Delhi and adjoining areas starting midnight of November 9 to November 30. The ban has been imposed ahead of Diwali to prevent worsening of the air quality - already in the “severe” zone - because of fire crackers.
The NGT had reserved on its order for the enforcement of ban on firecrackers across 23 states and Union Territories amidst the double crisis of air pollution and Covid-19 pandemic.
The green tribunal has said that this order will also be applicable to cities and towns across the country where the average ambient air quality in November last year was poor or worse.
Only green crackers, which are considered to be less polluting, will be sold in cities and towns where the air quality is in the “moderate” zone. The NGT has also ordered to restricting the timing of the use of firecrackers to two hours as specified by the state due to Covid-19.
The order also states that if nothing is specified, the timing will be 8-10 pm on Diwali and Gurupurab, 6 am-8 am on Chhatt and 11:55 pm-12:30 am during Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
For areas with better air quality, the Tribunal has made the enforcing of the cracker ban optional, but has directed all states and UTs to initiate special drives to keep the air pollution in check in view of a potential aggravation of Covid-19.
The order also states that if there are more stringent measures under orders of the authorities, the same will prevail. Many states, including Sikkim, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Delhi, had banned sale and use of all kinds of firecrackers even before the NGT’s order was released today. Some states reversed their initial decision and put mild restrictions on sale and the bursting of firecrackers.
NGT’s order has also directed the central and state pollution control boards to regularly monitor and compile data during the period, publish it on their websites and file a consolidated report.