The National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed that there would be a total ban on sale or use of all kinds of firecrackers between November 10 and 30 in all cities and towns across the country where the average ambient air quality in November fell under the ‘poor’ and above category.
A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel also directed that in places across the country where the ambient air quality fell under the ‘moderate’ or below category, only green crackers would be permitted to be sold and timings would be restricted to two hours for the use and bursting of the crackers.
The green panel specified that data from November 2019 would be calculated to ascertain the average ambient air quality for both the instances.
The Tribunal in its order also noted that Odisha, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Delhi and Chandigarh among others had already prohibited the sale and use of firecrackers to protect vulnerable groups such as the elderly, children, persons with co-morbidities among others.
Noting that submissions from several States requesting that green crackers be allowed, the Bench said, “The request is justified where air quality is moderate and below but not where air quality is poor and above which may result in deaths and diseases which has to be avoided even if there is financial loss.”
“We are also of the view that since we have taken the view that pollution aggravates COVID-19, not only crackers are to be banned or restricted depending upon air quality, all State pollution control boards and committees must take special initiative to contain air pollution by regulating all other sources of pollution,” the Bench added.
Moreover, Andhra Pradesh government has also restricted the bursting of crackers to two hours — from 8 pm to 10 pm on the occasion of Diwali.
“Only green crackers shall be sold and used, and the timings for use and bursting of crackers is restricted to two hours 8-10 pm on Diwali day (Nov 14),” the state government said in a statement.
As Diwali is being celebrated amid COVID-19 outbreak, the Andhra Pradesh government has urged buyers and sellers to follow all health protocols like social distancing and washing hands.
“All shops selling crackers should maintain 10 feet distance between the shops. Buyers should maintain 6 feet distance between them. The public is advised not to use sanitiser while bursting crackers, instead have been suggested to use soaps,” said a statement.
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