Wednesday 7 December 2022
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PoliticsIndiaDiwali firecrackers ban in Delhi: All questions answered

Diwali firecrackers ban in Delhi: All questions answered

This year once again, firecrackers have been completely banned in the capital Delhi. The capital city-state's Environment Minister Gopal Rai tweeted that the sale and use of firecrackers in Delhi would be banned till 1 January 2023. The decision has been taken with the aim of controlling air pollution, the AAP government claimed.

Gopal Rai tweeted that, in order to save the people of Delhi from the danger of pollution, like last year, this time again, there would be a complete ban on the production, storage, sale and use of all types of firecrackers — for "people's safety".

Rai said further that the AAP government had decided to ban the online sale of firecrackers too. However, he did not say when the ban would come into force.

Why ban firecrackers during Diwali: AAP government's rationale

Delhi's air starts getting worse from October onwards, the AAP government noticed. There are two reasons for this, it says. The first is that the weather starts changing from October. The temperature drops and the wind speed is affected too, due to which pollutants accumulate and pollution increases.

In this season, farmers in the states around Delhi start burning stubble. This increases pollution further. The situation becomes worse by bursting of crackers in Diwali, the AAP government claims but strangely maintains silence on the larger menace of the practice of farmers from and Haryana, which continues for days on end while Diwali firecrackers are a matter of one night.

Last year too, firecrackers were banned in Delhi to prevent the increase in pollution.  This is the AAP government's policy continuum.

How long did the ban last in the festive season around Diwali of 2021?

Last year, there was a ban from 28 September 2021 to 1 January 2022.

Can't burst even green crackers this Diwali?

The Arvind Kejriwal government has banned the sale and use of all types of firecrackers. Rai has written in his tweet that "all types of firecrackers" will be banned.  This means that this ban will be applicable on green firecrackers.

Can I buy crackers from somewhere else but then in Delhi?

Online sale of firecrackers is banned in Delhi too. If you want to buy them online, local manufacturing is prohibited while the crackers cannot be delivered to a Delhi address legally.

Even if you buy firecrackers from another state, you will not be able to burst it till 1 January 2023. You cannot burst firecrackers at a wedding or some other social function either.

What happens if firecrackers are burst regardless of the law?

You will have to face legal action.  Last year, Delhi Police had arrested 281 people. Of these, 138 people were arrested for selling firecrackers and 143 for burning. These arrests were made between 29 September and 4 November. About 20,000 kg of firecrackers were confiscated.

How will the sanctions be enforced?

The Delhi government has not yet publishedwhen this ban will come into effect. But Minister Rai said that an action plan would be prepared in collaboration with Delhi Police, Delhi Pollution Control Committee and Revenue Department to strictly implement the restrictions.

Do crackers really cause pollution?

On 2 December 2020, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered a ban on the sale and use of firecrackers in all cities, including Delhi-NCR, where the air quality was poor.

Burning of crackers on Diwali is known to increase the amount of PM10 and PM2.5 pollutants in the atmosphere. Both these pollutants are extremely dangerous and they are so micro that they can penetrate the body, causing many diseases.

Last year, there was a ban on the sale and use of firecrackers, but in spite of that people had burst firecrackers. In 2021, Delhi's air quality index stood at 462, the day after Diwali, due to firecrackers and stubble burning.  This figure is the highest in 5 years.  The Air Quality Index being 462 means that the air in Delhi was at a 'severe-to-hazardous' level.

Avinash Chanchal, associated with Greenpeace India, told the news agency that crackers increase pollution, but apart from this there are other sources which spoil the air. For example, transport, industry, and thermal power plants are equally responsible for increasing pollution.

Why are Hindus increasingly refusing to accept the 'scientific' reason then?

Because the environmentalists and their uncle's use it selectively against the community. Greenpeace never campaigned against the bursting of firecrackers at Times Square or observations of Chinese occasions. Or there is no vegan or vegetarian campaign against the slaughter of goats on Eid ul Adha (Bakrid). The activists hit upon excuses to dampen the spirit of Hindus whenever their festive occasions arrive. Before Holi, for example, they campaign against 'wasting' water. When they sight Hindus worshipping the Linga of Shiva, they say the community is 'wasting' milk.

The Kejriwal government did not show an honest resolve to fight pollution also in the case of rationing of vehicles on roads, referred to as the "odd-even" policy. While the greater pollutants on Delhi's roads are two-wheelers, they were spared from using the vehicles on alternate days. Trucks and buses were allowed too. Even greater pollutants like factories were allowed to keep emitting toxic materials into the air even at the peak of air pollution in the capital city.

Celebrities, especially from the film world, accentuate the hypocrisy. Priyanka Chopra, for example, was seen appealing to the people before a previous Diwali to refrain from bursting firecrackers in consideration of her "asthma" while soon photographs emerged showing her smoking. Aamir Khan and Alia Bhatt have run such duplicitous campaigns as well.

Experts' view

Environmentalist Bhavrin Kandhari wonders why the Delhi government does not ban firecrackers for the whole year. "Why is it banned only for a certain period of time?" he asked. He said the shopkeepers would have kept the stock and sold it at a discount price to clear it. He said further that there was no officer or volunteer who could get this ban implemented on the ground.

Sunil Dahiya, an analyst with the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), says it was right to ban firecrackers so that people could breathe clean air during the festival, "but action should also be taken against coal-fired power plants". He said that such power plants should be closed in Delhi-NCR to control pollution.

Last year, the Supreme Court had said that there was absolutely no ban on the use of firecrackers except on those that contained barium salt. However, the rising level of air pollution in Delhi-NCR was termed as an 'emergency' by the Supreme Court that suggested imposing a lockdown in Delhi.

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