Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led Delhi government on Monday reinforced a complete ban on firecrackers for the upcoming Diwali season in November. Addressing the press, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai said the firecracker ban was part of Chief Minister (CM) Arvind Kejriwal’s ‘winter action plan’ aimed at controlling air pollution.
“The CM decided to ban the manufacture, storage, online delivery, sale, and bursting of all types of firecrackers on the occasion of Diwali….,” Rai said.
“The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) will be directed to implement this. There is still time for Diwali, but this decision has been taken today because every year the process to issue licenses usually begins now. So this year, licenses will not be issued by the police for sale, storage, manufacture of firecrackers,” Rai said at a press conference on Monday.
This year, the festive season begins on November 13.
Rai said the Delhi-NCR police have been instructed to issue a circular on behalf of the state pollution control board stating that no licenses would be given. “Celebrating festivals is important, but equally important is caring for the environment. That's why we have made this decision in Delhi for the last 2 years, and the people of Delhi are supportive,” Rai told the media.
The environment minister also exhorted other states to adopt similar measures. “My request to other States is that if we can ban this together, we will be successful in controlling pollution from firecrackers,” he said.
“We light diyas on Diwali and burst crackers. But when smoke from firecrackers combines with that from stubble burning, the air quality turns ‘severe’,” Rai added.
Judicial measures taken to curb rising air pollution
Taking note of the rising air pollution, the Supreme Court in 2018 had allowed the sale of green crackers only. Since then, the top court and the nation's apex green tribunal—the National Green Tribunal (NGT)—have been issuing periodic orders to reinforce their decision or stamp down on illegal sales and manufacture of firecrackers.
On November 9, 2020, the NGT stipulated a complete ban on firecrackers in areas where pollution levels in the Delhi-NCR region fell in or below the “poor” category.
“Celebration by crackers is for happiness. It is not to celebrate deaths and diseases. Happiness of few at the cost of the life of others is not the value in Indian society which stands for happiness and well-being of all,” the apex green body had observed.
A year later in 2021, the Supreme Court reinforced its order banning fireworks while observing there were blatant violations. The top court had said state officials would be held personally liable if it failed to impose the ban.
“Any lapse on the part of the State Governments/State Agencies and Union Territories shall be viewed very seriously…,” the bench had said adding, Chief Secretary of the concerned States, the Home Secretary of the concerned states, Commissioner of Police of the concerned area, District Superintendent of Police of the concerned area and the SHO/Police Officer-in-charge shall be held personally liable.”
In 2021, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) further banned the storage and sale of all kinds of firecrackers within the national capital. To ensure strict compliance, officials were further directed against issuing licenses to store fireworks and prohibit the import of the same from outside Delhi.
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