The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Monday imposed a total ban on the sale and use of firecrackers in the National Capital Region (NCR) from midnight of November 9 to midnight of November 30 in a bid to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic from worsening owing to poor air quality.
A bench of the NGT headed by its chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, directed that the order will also 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) falls under poor or worse category.
The order issued by the NGT said, "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, Chatt, New Year, Christmas etc. as may be specified by the concerned state."
The NGT said that the restrictions are optional for the authorities at other places, but added that if there are more stringent measures under orders of the authorities, the same will prevail.
The NGT order further stated that all the states, Union Territories, Pollution Control Boards and Pollution Control Committees may initiate special drives to contain air pollution from all sources in view of the potential of aggravation of COVID-19. The order also stated that the Chief Secretaries and DGPs of all the States and Union Territories may issue and circulate an appropriate order in above terms with appropriate enforcement guidelines to all the District Magistrates and Superintendents of Police, PCBs/PCCs.
It further stated that the CPCB and the state PCBs/PCCs may regularly monitor the air quality during this period which may be uploaded on their respective websites. CPCB may compile information on the subject, including the status of compliance of this order from all the states and UTs and file a consolidated report with data compiled till the filing of this report before the next date.
Meanwhile, West Bengal, Delhi, Sikkim, and other states have imposed a ban on sale and use of firecrackers in Diwali abiding by the order of NGT but the state of Assam has rejected the order saying that it will not ban any sale and use of firecrackers in the state.
However, the government said that the respective police stations would decide the place for sale of firecrackers. In Kamrup (Metro), firecrackers could be sold in the designated areas to be identified by the police stations, said Deputy Commissioner Biswajit Pegu.
The DC said that the residents should ensure that they wouldn't burst crackers with higher decibels. The festival of light should be celebrated by lighting diyas' and lights, the DC stated.