As India celebrates Chhath Pooja and Kali Pooja, several States and Union Territories in India have announced a total ban on bursting all forms of firecrackers and their sales due to the upsurge of COVID-19 and consistent rise in air pollution.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has announced a blanket ban on sales and bursting all forms of firecrackers in the National Capital Region from midnight of November 9 to that of November 30. Likewise, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee has imposed a complete ban on firecrackers from November 7 to November 30 in Delhi. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced this decision after a high-level meeting with Chief Secretary Vijay Dev and magistrates. Union Environment Minister Gopal Rai has warned that the violators will be charged under the Air Act.
On November 6, Haryana government had announced a complete ban on bursting firecrackers due to coronavirus and air pollution. However, two days later, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar did a U-turn and relaxed the order to allow bursting of firecrackers for two hours on Deepavali night. CM Khattar shared this decision on Twitter.
Ahead of all States, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot imposed a total ban on the sale and bursting of all forms of firecrackers and explosives during Deepavali. On November 2, Mr. Gehlot tweeted, “State govt has taken the decision to ban the sale and bursting of firecrackers to protect the health of COVID-19 infected patients and public from poisonous smoke emanating due to fireworks. In this challenging corona pandemic time, protecting the lives of people is paramount for govt.”
The Union Territory of Chandigarh, which is also the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana, has issued a ban on the sale and use of firecrackers.
Chhattisgarh government issued permission to burst green firecrackers during Deepavali, Christmas and New Year in places that have been declared to have moderate air quality. Crackers are allowed from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Diwal, 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. on Chhath Puja, 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Gurupurab, and 11.55 p.m. to 12.30 a.m. on New Year and Christmas.
The Calcutta High Court has ordered a ban on the sale and bursting of firecrackers during Deepavali, Chhath Pooja, Kali Pooja and Kartik Pooja to control air pollution and COVID-19. Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Arijit Banerjee ordered that the same guidelines that were in effect during Durga Pooja be followed now as well to restrain the crowd limit. If anyone is found violating the High Court order, they will be sentenced for 6 months.
Under the order of Chief Secretary S.C. Gupta, the Sikkim Government issued a ban on the sale and bursting of firecrackers for the entire festival season to protect the active and recovered patients of COVID-19. He said, “a significant number of COVID-19 patients have recovered. But the increase in air pollution on burning crackers may prove hazardous for the recovered as well as active COVID-19 patients.”
The Nagaland government has imposed a ban on firecrackers across the State till January 31 next year. In a notification, Chief Secretary J. Alam attributed the decision to a hike in COVID-19 cases, and respiratory troubles faced by the elderly, children, and persons with multiple medical conditions.
As per the guidelines of Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board, Secretary Rajiv Lochan Bakshi said people can burst crackers from 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Deepavali. However, only green crackers will be allowed in urban areas of districts where the pollution level is moderate. This includes Palamu, Ranchi, Bokaro, Ramgarh, East Singhbhum, West Singhbhum, Giridih, Seraikela-Kharswan, Hazaribagh, Dhanbad, Godda, Deoghar, Sahibganj and Pakur.
On November 3, Odisha Government banned the sale and bursting of all forms of firecrackers across the State from November 10 to November 30. According to the State government order, violators will be penalised under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, and other relevant laws.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has announced that there will be no ban on selling or bursting of firecrackers in the State. However, no “Chinese firecrackers” will be allowed, he said on Twitter. He also said that firecrackers with pictures of Hindu gods and goddesses will not be allowed for sale.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has not imposed any ban per se, but he urged people to celebrate Deepavali with ‘self-discipline’. Civic body Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has announced a ban on bursting crackers at public places during Deepavali. However, they relaxed the order for Laxmi Pujan, which falls on November 14, and gave permission to burst small firecrackers like fuljhadi (sparklers) and anar or paus (fountain) within private premises.
After an initial statement on the ban on firecrackers, Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa backtracked and said that Karnataka government would only allow green crackers to safeguard COVID-19 patients. He requested that Deepavali be celebrated in a simple manner with eco-friendly firecrackers.
Andhra Pradesh Government has not imposed any ban on sale and bursting of crackers but has instructed that only green crackers be sold or used. The duration for the bursting of crackers is limited to two hours: 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Deepavali.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami imposed timings for bursting firecrackers across the State. Firecrackers may be burst only between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m., and between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. Under the guidelines of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), prior permission is needed to burst crackers at public places.
(With inputs from Samyuktha Sivakumar)