As Diwali and other festivals are inching closer, several states have imposed curbs on the sale, purchase and bursting of crackers as it deteriorates the air quality and may put a burden on healthcare facilities that are already dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. While some states have completely banned firecrackers, others have given a window for a few hours to burst only green crackers.
On October 29, the Supreme Court had said that celebration cannot be at the cost of others’ health and clarified that while there is no total ban on the use of firecrackers, those fireworks which contain Barium salts are prohibited. Deepavali will be celebrated on November 4.
Here’s a list of states that have imposed curbs on the sale, purchase and bursting of crackers during Diwali and other upcoming festivals:
1. TAMIL NADU
Citing a Supreme Court order that prohibited firecrackers containing Barium salts, the Tamil Nadu government has warned of action under criminal law in case of violations. Referring to the Supreme Court order in this respect, the Tamil Nadu government said the directives of the apex court vis-à-vis firecrackers would be implemented in toto.
In compliance with such directives, manufacture of firecrackers with Barium salt content and also the ‘Saravedi’ kind of firecracker (wherein single units are clubbed together to make it a string) is banned in Tamil Nadu, the government said in an official release.
Also, storage, transportation and sale of such products are prohibited, the government said and asked the people to not use such banned firecrackers. As per norms, action would be launched under criminal law against violators of the Supreme Court directives, the Tamil Nadu government said.
The Karnataka government has issued an order allowing the sale and bursting of only green crackers during this Deepavali, and advised people to strictly adhere to Covid-19 norms. “Other than green crackers that have been permitted by the Supreme Court in its directions, no other crackers can be sold or burst," an order signed by the Chief Secretary P Ravi Kumar said.
Stating that sellers who have taken necessary permits from concerned departments and authorities can only sell green crackers, it said stalls selling green crackers can be opened only between November 1 to 10. Green cracker stalls can be temporarily opened only at place and on dates mentioned in the permit, it said, adding that stalls should be opened away from residential areas and in open grounds, apart from ensuring adequate ventilation a distance of 6 metres should be maintained between two cracker stalls.
It also advised people to immediately contact fire control 101 in case of an emergency, and urged people to be sensitive to infants, aged, sick and animals, apart from not lighting loud fireworks near hospitals.
3. WEST BENGAL
The Calcutta High Court has banned the sale, purchase and use of all firecrackers during Kali Puja, Diwali celebrations and other festivities this year to check air pollution amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Passing the order on a PIL seeking a ban, the court said that the expression firecrackers will cover all types of sparklers as well as other similar materials, whether or not their bursting or burning involves any sound or light generation.
“The state should ensure that there is no use or display or bursting of firecrackers of any type at all during Kali Puja, Diwali celebrations as well as Chhath Puja, Jagadhatri Puja, Guru Nanak’s Birthday and Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations this year," the court ordered.
The division bench comprising justices Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya and Aniruddha Roy directed that only wax or oil-based diyas may be used for the occasions.
It directed the police to maintain a strict vigil to ensure that there is no further sale or purchase of firecrackers and take appropriate measures against those found violating the order. The order thus nullifies a recent notification by the West Bengal Pollution Control Board that allowed use of “green" fire crackers for a limited period of time on Diwali and Kali puja.
On October 25, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai said strict action will be taken under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Explosives Act against anyone found burning firecrackers. “No licence for selling firecrackers has been issued this year. Despite the ban, we have been receiving reports about the sale of firecrackers," Rai had told a press conference. The minister said stubble burning peaks around Diwali and the combination of smoke from farm fires and emissions from firecrackers can prove fatal for senior citizens and children.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced a ban on firecrackers on September 15, saying it was “essential to save lives". On September 28, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee ordered a complete ban on the sale and bursting of firecrackers in the national capital till January 1, 2022.
The Chhattisgarh government has also issued directives to officials that the National Green Tribunal’s orders regarding the use of firecrackers should be implemented strictly during the coming Diwali festival and New Year celebrations. Firecrackers can be burst during Diwali and Guruparva from 8 pm to 10 pm; from 6 am to 8 am on Chhath Puja, and from 11.55 pm to 12.30 am on New Year and Christmas, the guidelines said.
The sale of firecrackers which produce high-decibel sounds in violation of prescribed limits will not be allowed. The manufacturer will lose the license if firecrackers are found to contain toxic elements like lithium, arsenic, antimony, lead and mercury. Online sale of crackers has also been banned.
The Maharashtra government has urged people not to burst crackers this Diwali and issued directives keeping the air pollution and Covid-19 in mind. It has urged people to celebrate Diwali by lighting a lamp and avoiding firecrackers. The state government has also requested people not to overcrowd the market for Diwali shopping and follow Corona rules.
The Punjab government has announced a two-hour window to burst green firecrackers on Diwali and Gurpurb across the state. It has imposed a complete ban in Jalandhar and Mandi Gobindgarh, from the Wednesday midnight onwards on account of poor air quality index (AQI) levels.
The state government has banned manufacture, stock, distribution, sale and use of joined firecrackers in Punjab and added that only green crackers would be allowed for sale and use. The government order said that during Diwali, bursting of crackers shall be allowed from 8 to 10 pm.
The fireworks timing has been restricted to 35 minutes on the Christmas and New Year Eve. The bursting of crackers will be allowed from 11:55 pm to 12:30 am on Christmas and from 11:55 pm to 12:30 am on New Year.
8. Uttar Pradesh
The Uttar Pradesh government said there will be a total ban on the sale and use of all kinds of firecrackers in the NCR and all cities where air quality falls under the ‘poor’ or higher category.
Earlier, the Supreme Court on Thursday had dispelled the impression that it was against a particular group or community by banning firecrackers and said it cannot allow violation of rights of citizens under the guise of enjoyment.
The Assam Pollution Control Board has imposed a blanket ban on the bursting and selling of firecrackers in the state. According to a report in India Today, the board has allowed the selling and bursting of green crackers only for two hours, from 8 pm to 10 pm during Diwali, from 6 am to 8 am during Chhath Puja and on Christmas and on New Year’s Eve from 11:55 pm to 12:30 am.
(with inputs from PTI)