In view of the deteriorating air quality, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Monday announced a blanket ban on the sale or bursting of firecrackers in the National Capital Region (NCR) from midnight of November 9 till midnight of November 30.
Besides the NCR region, the direction will apply to all cities and towns in the country where the average of ambient air quality during November (as per available data of last year) has dropped below the ‘poor’ category, said NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel.
The direction was passed by a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, in a batch of petitions seeking remedial action against pollution by use of firecrackers in NCR.
The order states, “Having regard to the increased adverse health impact of pollution by use of crackers onCovid-19, aggravating risk to lives and health which has led to banning by the Governments of Odisha, Rajasthan, Sikkim, UT Chandigarh, DPCC and by the Calcutta High Court on sale and use of crackers, applying the ‘Sustainable Development’ and ‘Precautionary’ principles, a case is made out for issuing directions for banning the sale and use of firecrackers during November 9 to 30 in areas where air quality is ‘poor’, ‘very poor’, and ‘severe’.”
“The cities/towns where air quality is ‘moderate’ or below, only green crackers be sold, and the timings for use and bursting of crackers be restricted to two hours during festivals like Diwali, Chhath, New Year/Christmas Eve etc., as may be specified by the state concerned,” the bench led by Goel was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
“At other places, ban/restrictions are optional for the authorities but if there are more stringent measures under orders of the authorities, the same will prevail,” it added.
The green body also directed all states and Union Territories to launch special drives to curb air pollution from all sources in view of the potential of aggravation of coronavirus.
The air quality in the national capital today remained “severe” for the fifth consecutive day, with calm wind speed exacerbating the effect of stubble burning. The air quality index (AQI) stood at 469 at 9 am.
The neighbouring cities of Faridabad (462), Ghaziabad (483), Noida (476), Greater Noida (482), and Gurugram (475) also recorded “severe” air quality.
During the last hearing, the Tribunal had issued notices to 18 States and Union Territories, in addition to Delhi NCR, to consider measures for improving the air quality.