• The ban has been imposed in view of rising air pollution
  • Delhi has also seen a surge in coronavirus cases
  • Gurgaon, Noida, Faridabad will also be affected by the ban

New Delhi:

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has imposed a total ban on sale and use of firecrackers in Delhi and adjoining areas starting midnight of November 9 to November 30. The ban has been imposed ahead of Diwali to prevent worsening of the air quality – already in the “severe” zone – because of fire crackers.

The order will be applicable to more than 2 dozen districts across four states that are a part of the NCR.

Nationwide, it will also be applicable to “cities and towns where the average ambient air quality in November last year was “poor” or worse”, the green tribunal has said.

Only green crackers – considered to be less polluting – will be sold in cities and towns where air quality is “moderate”, the tribunal ordered also restricting the timing of use “due to Covid”.

“Timings for bursting crackers will be restricted to two hours during festivals as specified by the state concerned. If nothing is specified, timing will be 8-10 pm on Diwali and Gurupurb, 6am-8 am on Chhatt and 11.55pm-12.30am during Christmas and New Year’s eve,” the order read.

For “other areas” with better air quality, NGT has made imposition of cracker ban optional, but directed states to “initiate special drives to contain air pollution from all sources in view of potential of aggravation of Covid-19”.

It added that if there are “more stringent measures under orders of the authorities, the same will prevail”. 

Even before the NGT’s order, many states, including Sikkim, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Delhi, had banned sale and use of all kinds of firecrackers.

The National Green Tribunal’s ban on firecrackers came on a petition seeking action against firecracker-caused air pollution, including green crackers, in NCR during the time air quality is unsatisfactory with potential effect on severity of the coronavirus pandemic. It referred to statements by the central and state health ministers warning of rise in COVID-19 cases – by up to 15,000 cases a day – due to air pollution during the festive season.

Delhi is currently in the middle of a third wave and recorded 7,745 cases in the last 24 hours – the second time in three days.

Annually, air quality in north India deteriorates and becomes toxic in the winter months, starting October when farmers start burning rice paddy stubble.

For the last three days, air quality in the National Capital Region has remained “severe” after weeks of being in the “poor” to “very poor” category. Severe air pollution is known to affect healthy people and severely impact those with existing diseases.

The Indian Medical Association has associated that at least 17.5 per cent of Delhi’s Covid cases since October end to air pollution.

Mumbai’s municipal body, BMC, has also banned sale and use of fire crackers in the financial city and surrounding areas, except on the day of Laxmipujan on November 14.   

The decision comes a day after Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said he would not ban crackers but sought “people’s cooperation”.

Mumbai, the capital city of country’s worst hit state of Maharashtra, has already recorded two peaks in July and September, with the latter seeing up to 20,000 cases a day.

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