New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal on Monday ordered imposition of a total ban on sale or use of all kinds of firecrackers in the national capital region or any other city or town across the country where the average ambient air quality from November 9-10 to the midnight of November 30-December 1 falls under the 'poor' and above category.
A bench of NGT Chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel passed the order on a batch of petition seeking remedial action against the use and sale of firecrackers amid the double whammy of pollution crisis and rising coronavirus infections.
The green tribunal emphasised that citizens were entitled to breathe fresh air, a right cannot be defeated on the ground that enforcement of such right will lead to the closing of such business activity.
It ordered, "There will be total ban against the sale or use of all kinds of firecrackers in the NCR from midnight of November 9-10, 2020 to the midnight of November 30-December 1, 2020, to be reviewed thereafter." National capital region includes Delhi, Gurugram, Faridabad, Noida, Greater Noida, Ghaziabad, Muzaffarnagar, Bhiwani, Karnal, Sonipat, Meerut, Hapur, Charki Dadri, Panipat, Rohtak, Jind, Bhagpat and Bulandshahr. However, the Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Sunday announced that people are allowed to sell and burst firecrackers for two hours on Diwali.
These directions will also apply to all the cities and towns in the country where the average of ambient air quality during November, as per the available data of last year, falls under the 'poor' and above category.
"The cities or 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, Chatt, New Year or Christmas Eve etc., as may be specified by the concerned state," the green court added.
The bench, also comprising of Judicial Member S.K. Singh and Expert Members Dr. S.S. Garbyal and Dr. Nagin Nanda further ordered that if nothing is specified by the state, timing for imposition of ban will be 8 to 10 p.m. on Diwali and Gurpurb, 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. on Chatt and 11.55 p.m. to 12.30 a.m. during Christmas and New year eve.
At other places, bans or restrictions are optional for the authorities but if there are more stringent measures under orders of the authorities, the same will prevail.
All States, UTs, Pollution Control Boards and committees have been directed to initiate special drives to contain air pollution from all sources in view of the potential of aggravation of Covid-19. The Chief Secretaries and the DGPs have been asked to issue and circulate orders with appropriate enforcement guidelines.
The Central Pollution Control Board and the State Pollution Control Board or Committees may regularly monitor the air quality during this period which may be uploaded on their respective websites. The CPCB has been asked to compile information on the subject, including the status of compliance of the order from all the states or UTs and file a consolidated report on December 1.
Prior to the order, Odisha, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Delhi and UT Chandigarh had prohibited sale and use of fire crackers to protect the vulnerable groups like elderly, children, persons with comorbidities and others considering the potentially harmful consequences of burning of crackers amidst Covid-19 pandemic situation and approaching winter.