National Green Tribunal imposed a total ban on sale and use of all kinds of fire crackers during Covid-19 pandemic in the NCR and all cities/towns in the country where the ambient air quality falls under the ‘poor’ and above category.
The decision of Total Ban on Use and Sale of Fire Crackers was taken in view of the fact that the Pandemic is still continuing and is aggravated by the addition of pollution by fire crackers, having potential of damage to public health.
The Bench took note of a report filed by CPCB which maintained that ‘Overall, this year Deepawali has witnessed higher background levels of pollutants during pre-diwali days and further addition of particulates during night from firecrackers and hence there should be Ban on Use and Sale of Fire Crackers.’
The Bench comprised of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel (Chairperson), Justice Sheo Kumar Singh (Judicial Member), Dr. Satyawan Singh Garbyal (Expert Member) and Dr. Nagin Nanda (Expert Member) invoked the precautionary principle under section 15 and 20 of the NGT Act, 2010 and said,
“we are satisfied that there is need to continue directions for prohibition and regulation of use of fire crackers during pandemic Covid19, depending upon air quality with further direction to take coercive measures for non-compliance, including recovery of compensation and for redressal of claims of victims of such pollution and restoration of environment.”
“noise level norms under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 22 1981 and noise level under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 have to be maintained to give effect to the principle of Sustainable Development of which Precautionary principle is a part. Since mere passing of order does not ensure compliance, necessary coercive measures have to be taken.“
Accordingly, it is directed in the matter of Ban on Use and Sale of Fire Crackers that apart from the scale of compensation, applicable for noise, equal amount of compensation is liable to be paid for violation of air norms.
Further, for second violation and more than two violations, deterrent amount in the form of double compensation will be payable. It is clarified that ‘second’ violation does not mean second day. Second violation includes violation on same day or continuous violation.
On the issue of livelihood of those involved in the firecracker business in this matter of Ban on Use and Sale of Fire Crackers, the Tribunal said,
“Nobody has a right to carry on business at the cost of health of others. All licenses already given or which may be given are inherently subject to overriding requirement of preventing damage to the environment and the public health.“
In this order of Ban on Use and Sale of Fire Crackers , the Tribunal clarified that its previous direction to restrict use of fire crackers in cities/towns where air quality is ‘moderate’ or below to green crackers only and for duration of not more than two hours and only for celebration of any specified festivals or permitted occasions will continue.