Total Ban On Crackers From Midnight To November 30 In Delhi, Nearby Areas

Delhi Firecracker Ban: National Green Tribunal bans firecrackers in all districts under the National Capital Region, all cities across the country with "poor" or worse air from November 9 to November 30. Green crackers allowed for 2 hours in places with "moderate" air quality.

Firecracker Ban: Air pollution in Delhi and neighbouring cities has been "severe". (File)

Highlights

  • 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. If anyone in Delhi is caught bursting firecrackers in this duration, they can be sentenced to 1.5-6 years in jail, state Environment Minister Gopal Rai said.

The ban has been imposed ahead of Diwali to prevent further rise in air pollution - already in the "severe" zone - because of firecrackers. It will be applicable to more than 2 dozen districts across four states that are a part of the National Capital Region (NCR).

Nationwide, the ban on firecrackers will be applicable to all "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".

"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 the cracker ban 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 (to check air pollution) 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 also directs the central and state pollution control boards to regularly monitor compliance and compile air pollution data from November 9 to November 30, put it on their websites and "file a consolidated report".

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The National Green Tribunal's order came on a petition seeking action against firecracker-caused air pollution, including green crackers, in NCR during the time air quality is unsatisfactory - the winter months starting with stubble burning in October - 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 more than 7,000 cases in a day - the second time in three days. Over this period, air quality in the National Capital Region has remained "severe" -  known to affect healthy people and severely impact those with existing diseases.

The Indian Medical Association has linked 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 Laxmi Puja 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.