India getting ready to celebrate the festival of lights Deepawali, but like Navratri and Dussehra, COVID-19 and Air Pollution also diluting our festival celebration again. Considering the potentially harmful consequences of burning crackers amidst the COVID-19 pandemic situation and approaching winter, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on November 9 hear and pronounce its order on the imposition of a temporary ban on the sale and use of firecrackers across 23 states and UTs.
Considering 122 non-attainment cities in 23 states and Union Territories, which have been consistently showing poorer air quality, the green tribunal said that it may have to consider the direction to prohibit the use of firecrackers during the period air quality, is beyond a threshold to protect the health of the vulnerable groups.
Non-attainment cities include Delhi, Varanasi, Bhopal, Kolkata, Noida, Muzaffarpur, Mumbai, Jammu, Ludhiana, Patiala, Ghaziabad, Varanasi, Kolkata, Patna, Gaya, Chandigarh, etc.
On November 5, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced the ban on the use of firecrackers in Delhi after reviewing the COVID-19 situation. Kejriwal said, “Coronavirus cases have increased due to the festival season and pollution. It was decided to ban crackers in Delhi and ramp up medical infrastructure, among other measures.”
Kejriwal also urged people not to use firecrackers this Diwali for the safety of their kids and family. He said, “We will celebrate Diwali together and won’t burst firecrackers in any condition. There will be a wonderful atmosphere and good vibes as two crore people will perform Laxmi Pujan. It will lead to well-being in each household.”
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The Maharashtra government also issued guidelines for the citizens to celebrate the Diwali festival. The government urged people to not burst crackers during Diwali as it damages the environment and adds to air pollution.
Meanwhile, the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) imposed a ban on the bursting of firecrackers in public places during Diwali in view of rising COVID-19 cases in the city.
The Calcutta High Court on November 5 ordered a ban on the bursting of all kinds of crackers or fireworks for Kali Puja, Diwali, and Chhath Puja. The court also imposed a ban on the sale of firecrackers in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
On November 3, the Odisha government passed an order banning the sale and use of firecrackers across the state from November 10 to 30 during the festive season to check air pollution which can create serious problems for COVID-19 patients.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot was the first to announce the ban on the sale and bursting of firecrackers during the Diwali festival this year.
On November 2, Gehlot tweeted, “State govt has taken the decision to ban the sale and bursting of firecrackers in order to protect the health of COVID-19 infected patients & public from poisonous smoke emanating due to fireworks. In this challenging corona pandemic time, protecting the lives of people is paramount for govt.”
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The guidelines issued by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to decrease air pollution, the Haryana government on November 6 declared the possession and sale of imported firecrackers illegal and punishable across the state. However, two days after announcing a complete ban on the sale of firecrackers, the government allowed bursting them for two hours during the Diwali festival.
On November 6, Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa announced the ban on the use of firecrackers in the state. He said “We have discussed it (cracker ban); we are taking a decision to ban the use of firecrackers during Deepavali. The government will soon be issuing an order to this effect,” Yediyurappa said. However, hours after the CM’s announcement, the Karnataka government announced that the sale and bursting of ‘green crackers’, as per Supreme Court guidelines will be allowed in the state during Deepavali.