Amidst coronavirus & pollution crisis; NGT bans firecrackers across India in cities with ‘poor’ air quality

Delhi: As India prepares to celebrate the festival of lights Diwali, a few states and UT governments have chosen to force a restriction on fireworks amidst the double whammy of the pollution crisis and the coronavirus pandemic.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Monday directed that sale and use of firecrackers will be banned, between November 10 to November 30, in all cities and towns where the average ambient air quality in November fall under the “poor” and above categories.

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 firecrackers should be banned from November 7-30.

However, For places where air quality is in the “moderate” or below categories, only green crackers are to be sold and timings for bursting crackers will be restricted to two hours only, the Tribunal directed.

“This direction is on the pattern of the direction of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in (2019) 13 SCC 523 which we are applying to areas moderately polluted or below air quality due to aggravated effect during Covid-19, as already noted. If nothing is specified by the State, timing will be 8 to 10 pm on Diwali and  Gurupurb, 6 am to 8 am on Chatt and 11.55 pm to 12.30 am during Christmas and New year eve (which have yet to come and do not fall in November but if ban continues) and not otherwise,” the tribunal said.

A bench of NGT Chairperson, Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel (retired) issued the order after hearing, on November 5, amicus curiae senior advocates Raj Panjwani and Mahesh Jethmalani along with lawyers appearing for the Union Environment Ministry, Central Pollution Control Board and the lawyers for various states and Union Territories.

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