Himanta Contradicts Assam Govt’s Decision To Ban Firecrackers

Himanta Contradicts Assam Govt’s Decision To Ban Firecrackers

The Pollution Control Board Assam (PCBA) and Assam cabinet minister Himanta Biswa Sarma seem to have made contradictory statements on the ban on firecrackers this festive season, creating confusion among the people.

The PCBA, through a notification on Tuesday, stated that the sale and use of all of kinds of firecrackers in Guwahati have been banned till November 30 as air pollution increases the risk of mortality from COVID-19. It said the bursting of firecrackers releases copious amounts of harmful chemicals, which severely impact the respiratory health of vulnerable groups and such pollutants could further aggravate health conditions of COVID-19 positive persons, including those in home isolation.

The order also stated that in other areas except for Guwahati, only green crackers could be sold and bursting would be allowed only for two hours during Diwali from 8 pm to 10 pm. During Chhath Puja, firecrackers will be allowed from 6 am to 8 am and during Christmas and New Year's Eve from 11:55 pm to 12:30 am.

However, in contrary to this, Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma took to his official Twitter handle on Tuesday evening and said that "Hindus have the right to celebrate festivals" and asserted that there was no plan on restrictions Diwali celebrations, including firecrackers.

"Like any other religion, Hindus have the right to celebrate festivals. With improvement in #COVID19 situation in Assam,we plan no restrictions on celebration of #Diwali including use of #Firecrackers.

However, kindly remember, self-restraint is key to combat #COVID19."

The minister's statement has evidently brought confusion among the people as well as police officials as they are unsure whose direction to follow. While PCBA says the ban is due to COVID-19 as the smoke could harm patients, Mr Sarma on the other hand said the COVID situation in the state has vastly improved.

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