- Pollution caused by crackers increases risk for COVID-19 patients: Experts
- Air pollution increases in Northern part of India every year during winters
- The states have banned both the sale and use of crackers
New Delhi: Ahead of the festival of Diwali, several states and Union Territories (UTs) have announced a complete ban on selling and bursting firecrackers due to the worsening air quality, especially in North India and the COVID-19 cases still on the rise in the county. According to experts, air pollution caused by firecrackers may further surge the number of COVID-19 patients and increase the risk of COVID-19 mortality. They say that exposure to air pollution will harm the active and recovering COVID-19 patients.
Dr Ravindra Mehta, Senior Consultant and HOD – Pulmonology and Interventional pulmonology, Apollo Speciality Hospitals, Jayanagar, Bengaluru said,
It is well known that crackers increase pollution, and pollution increases COVID. People who are recovering from COVID and have lung diseases will certainly have more problems if they are exposed to a higher level of pollution. Both of these make it a reason to reduce the crackers which are burst during Diwali. Banning crackers implies that the government has taken it to the highest level of consideration, which is equivalent to a lockdown. Ultimately, reduction is the goal here, and banning is an extreme step of reduction. Hence, at this point, for this season, cracker ban is a good move by the government so as to consolidate the already good progress which is happening in the COVID reduction process and to facilitate the healing of lungs and avoid discomfort for people who are recovering.
On November 11, while rejection a plea for a two-hour window for the bursting of firecrackers during Diwali and Kali Puja, the Supreme Court said,
We understand these festivals are important. There cannot be anything more important than the preservation of life in the current pandemic. Life is itself in danger now and people should come together to deal with the problem.
Here is a list of some states and UTs where firecrackers have been banned, this festive season:
Rajasthan: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot announced on November 2 that the state has decided to ban the sale and use of firecrackers. He tweeted,
State government has taken the decision to ban the sale and bursting of firecrackers in order to protect the health of COVID-19 infected patients and the public from poisonous smoke emanating due to fireworks. In this challenging corona pandemic time, protecting the lives of people is paramount for the government.
The chief minister also appealed to people to follow the ban responsibly and celebrate Diwali without firecrackers, saying pollution caused by them increases the risk for coronavirus patients.
While talking to NDTV about the implementation of the ban, Mohan Lal Lather, DGP (Director General of Police) of Rajasthan said,
The ban is on the sale and on use of crackers. As far as the sale is concerned, we have the directions to take strict actions against the sellers and we are making sure that no firecrackers make it to the market. We are also trying our best to check the illegal sale of firecrackers. For restricting the burning of crackers, we have already started making citizens aware of the ban and have requested them to follow it for their own and loved ones’ health. However, if seller and consumers are seen flouting the ban, appropriate actions will be taken under Section 188 of Indian Penal Code which is about disobedience to order from a public servant who is in the authority to give such orders. Apart from this, breaking of this prohibition order will slap the violators with fines starting from Rs. 500 under the Rajasthan Epidemic Diseases Act 2020.
Sikkim: Sikkim is the first state from Northeast India to order a blanket ban on the sale and use of any type of firecracker in the state during this festive season. SC Gupta, Chief Secretary, Sikkim Government issued an order on November 4 under the Disaster Management Act 2005 to completely ban selling and bursting firecrackers until further notice. According to Mr. Gupta, the step has been taken in order to safeguard the health of COVID-19 patients and those who have recovered from the infection from the adverse impacts of air pollution generated from firecrackers.
The Superintendents of Police and District Magistrates have been given the responsibility of taking necessary actions to ensure the compliance of the ban order. While talking to NDTV about the implementation of the ban, Pravin Gurung, Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIGP) and Spokesperson of the Sikkim Police said,
The sale and use of firecrackers have been banned and the entire state has to follow it. For restricting the sale, we have already sealed the state borders to ban any entry of firecrackers in the state. The good thing is there is not even a single firecracker manufacturing unit in Sikkim. Whatever crackers come in the state, come from Siliguri. So, in this way, we will be ensuring that no crackers reach Sikkim markets. We are also trying our best to check any illegal sale of firecrackers. For restricting the burning of crackers, we have already started creating awareness through the media among the citizens about the ban. The people in Sikkim are already familiar with the firecracker ban rules because the state has been imposing this ban every year since 2014. So, it is not going to be difficult for us to implement the ban in the state. Ours is a small state with less population and people here obey and are very cooperative.
On November 11, the Supreme Court, while rejecting a pleafor a two-hour window for the bursting of firecrackers during Diwali and Kali Puja, said,
We understand these festivals are important. We are in a situation where life itself is danger. There cannot be anything more important than the preservation of life in the current pandemic. Life is itself in danger now and people should come together to deal with the problem.
He added that this year, the order says that the ban will be imposed until further notice and so it can be expected that firecrackers will not be allowed even after Diwali till at least Christmas and New Year Eve.
West Bengal: The Calcutta High Court on November 5 ordered a ban on bursting of all kinds of crackers or fireworks for Kali Puja, Diwali, and Chhatpuja in West Bengal in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak and the increasing air pollution. The court has asked the police to ensure that the norms are strictly enforced.
Odisha: The Odisha government on November 3 banned the sale and use of firecrackers across the state during the festive season to check air pollution which can aggravate the health conditions of COVID-19 patients. The period of the ban is from November 10 to 30, according to a government order. Chief Secretary A K Tripathy issued a direction to prohibit the sale and use of firecrackers in all parts of the state.
Considering the potentially harmful consequences of burning of crackers amidst the COVID-19 pandemic situation and approaching winter, Government of Odisha, therefore, prohibits the sale and use of firecrackers in the public interest, the chief secretary said.
As per the order, any person found violating this order shall be punished under the provision of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and other relevant laws.
Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on November 5 decided to ban firecrackers in the national capital from November 7 to November 30 after reviewing the COVID-19 situation. The Delhi CM 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.
We will celebrate Diwali together and won’t burst firecrackers in any condition.
According to Madhur Verma, Spokesperson, Delhi Police, any violator of the ban shall be penalised appropriately.
Anyone found bursting or selling crackers in the national capital, said Delhi Police Commissioner. Teams have been formed in every police district and they inspect their respective areas. All licenses, that were issued, have been suspended. There can be no sale or use of crackers till 30th November. Patrolling parties have been directed to develop intelligence wherever sale or use of firecrackers is taking place, SN Shrivastava
The Delhi Police Commissioner added that the public if they get information on sale or use of firecrackers anywhere, they should inform the Police Command Centre on 112 and the enforcement teams will reach the spot immediately and initiate strict action.
In view of the adverse impact on the air of the capital, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has also announced a ban on the sale and use of firecrackers from midnight of November 9 to midnight of November 30 in the National Capital Region.
Karnataka: Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on November 6 said that the state government will be issuing an order banning the use of firecrackers during Diwali. He said,
We have discussed it (cracker ban), we are taking a decision to ban the use of firecrackers during Diwali. The government will soon be issuing an order to this effect.
Green crackers can be on sale in the state from November 1 to 17 in open spaces to allow buyers and sellers to maintain social distancing. The surroundings of the cracker shops need to undergo sanitisation. Also, the shopkeepers will have to arrange for hand sanitizers. Both buyers and sellers of the green crackers need to wear face masks.
Maharashtra: As Maharashtra struggles with the coronavirus cases, the state government on November 6 issued guidelines for the citizens to keep in mind while celebrating Diwali. The government cautioned against bursting crackers citing ecological concerns as it damages the environment and adds to the air pollution and noise pollution.
Meanwhile, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) imposed a ban on the bursting of firecrackers at public places during Diwali in view of rising COVID-19 cases in the city. Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani announced on Thursday (November 5) that violators shall be penalised and the SOPs in this regard would be issued shortly. An official at BMC said,
The ban has been proposed in view of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the early winter that has set in. Directions have been sent to the police and some BMC personnel will be involved in implementing the ban. We have already sent an appeal to the citizens through regional media.
Chandigarh: Chandigarh has also banned the sale and use of firecrackers of all types with immediate effect, until further orders. According to an official from the Union Territory, any violators shall be penalised under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and apart from this, actions will be taken under Section 188 of the IPC and other provisions as applicable.
Punjab: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on November 10 announced a two-hour window for use of green firecrackers on Diwali and Gurpurab, with a curb for Christmas too across the state, except in Mandi Gobindgarh, where a total ban has been imposed from the midnight of November 9-November 10 till November 30-December 1 midnight on account of its poor air quality index (AQI) levels.
Haryana: The Haryana government on November 6 declared the possession and sale of imported firecrackers illegal and punishable across the state. However, the Haryana government has permitted the sale and the bursting of firecrackers for only two hours — between 8 pm and 10 pm — on Diwali, Gurupurab and Kartik Poornima, in the state. On Christmas and New Year, people can burst firecrackers from 11:55 pm to 12:30 am. However, in Haryana’s NCR districts of Gurgaon, Faridabad, Sonipat and Rohtak, there will be a complete ban on firecrackers because of the ban imposed by the NGT.
Andhra Pradesh: The Andhra Pradesh government has allowed the sale of only green crackers and restricted bursting of crackers to two hours — from 8 pm to 10 pm on the occasion of Diwali.
Uttarakhand: In view of the NGT directions amid COVID-19 and surge in levels of air pollution, the Uttarakhand Government has permitted the sale of only green crackers in six cities and restricted bursting of crackers for 2 hours on Diwali, Gurpurab and Chhath. These cities include Dehradun, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Haldwani Rudrapur and Kashipur. While the state government has fixed a time slot of 8 pm to 10 pm on Diwali and Gurpurab during which the crackers can be burst, green crackers can be used from 6 am till 8 am on Chhath.
Nagaland: The Nagaland government announced a ban on firecrackers across the state till January 31 next year to curb pollution amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as per an official order. The prohibition has been imposed in exercise of the power conferred under the Disaster Management Act, 2005. Considering the harmful effects, the state government directed to prohibit the sale and use of firecrackers across Nagaland in the public interest, an officer said. Any person found violating the order would be punished under relevant provisions of the Disaster Management Act and other laws, he said. The deputy commissioners, the commissioner of police of Dimapur and superintendents of police have been empowered to take all measures and necessary action to ensure compliance with the order, Alam said. Several states have announced restrictions on bursting of firecrackers on Diwali and other year-end festivities, including Christmas, to curb pollution.
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