NCR: Total ban on firecrackers from midnight till November 30
Considering the rising air pollution levels, the National Green Tribunal on Monday imposed a total ban on the sale or usage of all kinds of firecrackers in NCR, which engulfs entire Delhi, parts of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Haryana, till November 30. The ban, which comes just days before Diwali, will start from midnight today. Earlier, Delhi had imposed a similar ban.
Delhi reported worst air quality of season today
Like every year, this time too the air in NCR has turned poisonous. On Monday, Delhi recorded its worst air quality of the season. At Anand Vihar, the Air Quality Index was registered at 484, which falls in the "severe" category. AQI remained in the same category on Sunday as well, after a brief respite in the morning. Naturally, the visibility remained dangerously low.
Green crackers allowed in areas having "moderate" air quality
In its order, the Tribunal allowed citizens from cities/towns where air quality is "moderate" to burst crackers but levied a time limit. "Only green crackers be sold and the timings for use and bursting of crackers be restricted to two hours during festivals, like Diwali, Chhath, New Year/Christmas Eve as may be specified by the State," sad NGT.
Green crackers can be burst in select areas on festivals
"If nothing is specified by the state, timing will be 8-10 pm on Diwali and Gurupurb, 6-8 am on Chhatt, and 11.55 pm-12.30 am during Christmas and New Year's eve," the Tribunal added.
Plea sought action against firecrackers, mentioned link between pollution, coronavirus
Notably, NGT has acted on a petition that drew attention to the perilous air pollution levels and its association with the coronavirus crisis. The plea read, "Increased pollution may further affect the vulnerable groups and increase the fatality rate. COVID-19 cases in Delhi may go up to 15,000 per day, as against the current cases of about 5,000 per day."
Earlier, states released their own set of rules
The NGT order comes amid states releasing their own guidelines with respect to firecrackers. Rajasthan became the first state to ban firecrackers this season. Last week, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said coronavirus is linked with air pollution, hence, it would be best if firecrackers were banned. "In this challenging corona pandemic time, protecting the lives of people is paramount for government," he had said.
Delhi also banned firecrackers, imposed a heavy fine for violators
Following Rajasthan, the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi also banned firecrackers. CM Arvind Kejriwal said that he reviewed the COVID-19 situation in Delhi along with the Chief Secretary, health officials, and all District Magistrates. It was then decided that firecrackers should be banned. Later, Delhi's Environment Minister Gopal Rai announced that bursting/selling firecrackers would invite a fine of up to Rs. 1 lakh.
Haryana didn't impose a complete ban, took SC's route
Meanwhile, the Haryana government, led by Bharatiya Janata Party's Manohar Lal Khattar, took a relaxed approach, allowing firecrackers for a few hours. "Use of firecrackers allowed only between 8 pm till 10 pm on Diwali and Gurupurab, and 11.55 pm till 1230 am on Christmas and New Year's eve," the state government said. In 2018, the Supreme Court had announced a similar order.