Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai on Monday said that Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has issued a directive to the city police against granting licenses for the sale, manufacture or storage of firecrackers ahead of Diwali which will fall on November 12 this year.
The action is aimed at reducing pollution levels during Diwali as well as the winter season.
Rai also mentioned that Chief Minister Kejriwal has instructed the Delhi Pollution Control Board (DPCC) to impose a complete ban on the manufacturing, storage, online sale, and bursting of firecrackers.
"We all celebrate Diwali with great enthusiasm. Besides lighting lamps, we also burst crackers, which results in a thick cloud of smoke which engulfs the entire Delhi the day after Diwali. When the pollution from stubble burning is added to this, the AQI level reaches severe levels," the Environment Minister said.
Rai explained that this is why they have designed a Winter Action Plan to combat pollution.
"We are aware that pollution increases in Delhi with the arrival of winter. Delhi's AQI remained low between January and August, recording 45 AQI in Delhi yesterday (Sunday). However, in October, as winter advances, particulate matter (PM) begins to accumulate, making the environment toxic due to both local and external pollution sources."
The Minister also informed that they are holding a meeting with environmental experts on Tuesday, and another one with all department officials is scheduled for September 14.
Rai further mentioned that on October 23, 2018, the apex court issued an order allowing only green crackers in the capital.
However, it was observed that various types of crackers were sold and burst under the guise of green crackers, leading to severe pollution levels.
On January 12, 2020, the NGT passed an order to ban crackers entirely in the entire NCR where pollution levels reach the severe category.
DPCC imposed a complete ban on the manufacturing and storage of crackers on September 28, 2021.
"In 2022, there was also a complete ban on crackers. In 2014, PM levels used to be 324, which have now reduced to 188. PM 2.5 has also decreased by 46 per cent. PM 10 has witnessed a 42 percent decline between 2014 and 2023. The Delhi Chief Minister has decided and directed the DPCC to ban the manufacturing, storage, online sale, bursting, etc," Rai said.
Rai stated that Delhi Police issues licenses for selling crackers each year, so they are issuing directions to the Delhi Police not to grant any licenses for the storage, sale, or manufacturing of crackers to help reduce pollution.
"We have noticed that people in Delhi secretly bring crackers from other states. We appeal to neighboring states to adhere to the NGT order, and we will also write letters to them," he added.