Several states have been taking criminal and legal actions to reduce the air pollution
The NGT also directed all states and Union Territories to initiate special drives to contain air pollution
Considering the deteriorating air quality in the national capital and adjoining areas, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) imposed a blanket ban on sale and bursting of all forms of firecrackers in the National Capital Region (NCR) from the midnight of November 9 to the midnight of November 30.
The direction will apply to all cities and towns in the country where the average of ambient air quality during November (as per available data of last year) fell under the 'poor' and above categories, a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel clarified.
"The cities/towns where air quality is 'moderate' or below, 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 etc as may be specified by the state concerned the bench said adding that at other places, ban/restrictions are optional for the authorities but if there are more stringent measures under orders of the authorities, the same will prevail.
The NGT also directed all states and Union Territories to initiate special drives to contain air pollution from all sources in view of the potential of aggravation of covid-19. In parallel, the central government joint task force on health and air pollution under union health ministry and ministry of environment has also advised states bearing the highest burnt of air pollution to ban crackers this Diwali to mitigate the impact of air pollution amidst covid-19 pandemic.
As air pollution is a major risk factor for mortality and morbidity among covid-19 patients and otherwise, some states have already banned firecrackers in one form or the other such as Rajasthan, Delhi, West Bengal, Odisha, Sikkim, Karnataka and Maharashtra. The said states are also having high number of covid-19 cases and deaths.
As the country is witnessing an ongoing festive season and the winter is also settling in, the air quality is worsening in several parts of the country especially in the Northern Indian states like Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. “The air pollution is major issue during the pandemic. Firecrackers during Diwali should not add to the damage we are facing due to covid-19. Air pollution certainly triggers the severity of the covid-19 because both affect the respiratory system," said T K Joshi, member, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) task force on air pollution and health. Joshi however said, that coastal states may celebrate Diwali with limited bursting of firecrackers that too without the harmful constituents in the crackers that cause pollution. “Green crackers can be explored and the regulation of cracker factories should be done in a stringent manner," said Joshi.
Several states have been taking criminal and legal actions to reduce the air pollution. “We have instructed our officers to check any illegal sale of firecrackers ahead of Diwali. We have also arrested at least nine persons in this regard. As air pollution has increased in last few days and may also impact the ongoing covid-19 pandemic, we are also registering cases in regard to stubble burning," said Akash Tomar, senior superintendent of police (SSP), Etawah district, a farming belt in UP.