The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has imposed a total ban on firecrackers , sale and use in Delhi and adjoining areas starting midnight of November 9 to November 30. The ban has been imposed ahead of Diwali to prevent further rise in air pollution – already in the “severe” zone – because of firecrackers. The order will be applicable to more than 2 dozen districts across four states that are a part of the NCR.
Nationwide, ban on firecrackers 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 to two hours as specified by the state “due to Covid” and imposed ban on firecrackers in more polluted cities.
“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 ban on firecrackers optional, but directed states to “initiate special drives to contain air pollution from all sources in view of COVID-19”.
It added that if there are “more stringent measures under orders of the authorities, the same will prevail”. Even before today’s order, many states, including Sikkim, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Delhi, had banned sale and use of all kinds of firecrackers.
The order of ban on firecrackers also directs the central and state pollution control boards to regularly monitor and compile data “during this period”, put it on their websites and “file a consolidated report”.
On Thursday, The NGT had reserved, till November 9, its order of ban on firecrackers across 23 states and UTs amidst the double whammy of the pollution crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Earlier this week, the NGT had sought response of the Union environment ministry, the governments of Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan, the Central Pollution Control Board, the Delhi Police Commissioner and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee on whether the use of fire crackers should be banned from November 7 to 30.
On Wednesday, the tribunal expanded its ambit of hearing cases on pollution by use of firecrackers beyond the Delhi-NCR region and issued notices to 19 states and Union Territories where air quality is beyond norms.
On Wednesday, alluding to 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 direction to prohibit use of fire crackers 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.
Delhi Police on Sunday said that all licences issued for the sale of firecrackers in the national capital have been suspended and further action will be taken on National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) directions.