The Haryana government has allowed sale and use of firecrackers for two hours on festivals, including Diwali, citing impact on small traders. The state has also allowed celebratory bursting of "green crackers" on occasions, including marriages.
People would be allowed to burst crackers for two hours - 8 pm to 10 pm - on Diwali, Gurupurab and Kartik Poornima, the order states. On Christmas and New Year, people can burst firecrackers from 11:55 pm to 12:30 am, it adds.
The order was issued hours after Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar cited the relaxations on being questioned about economic losses to traders.
"We have noticed that coronavirus cases have been increasing since the time air pollution started rising. Haryana's daily Covid case count had come down to 1,000. This has now increased to more than 2,000 cases. So, we took a decision (banned sale and bursting of firecrackers) to safeguard people's health. However, for those who want to burst crackers, we will allow for two hours," Mr Khattar had said.
He later tweeted that the November 8 order was in keeping with the National Green Tribunal's order in the wake of increasing air pollution amid the coronavirus pandemic. Coronavirus affects lungs and the surge in air pollution that takes place with Diwali and the onset of winter is expected to lead to a spike in numbers.
"This decision has been taken in view of reducing pollution and preventing the spread of coronavirus infection," the chief minister tweeted on lifting the ban, which remains in force in neighbouring Delhi and Rajasthan.
However, these relaxations may not apply to Haryana's NCR districts of Gurgaon, Faridabad, Sonipat and Rohtak.
The NGT has put a total ban on firecrackers in Delhi and neighbouring districts, besides cities across the country with "poor air", starting midnight of November 9 to November 30.
The Haryana state government is yet to react to this decision.
Haryana saw 2,380 fresh COVID-19 infections in the last 24 hours, taking its tally close the 2 lakh mark; 1,912 Covid related deaths have been recorded till now.