New Delhi [India], December 2 (ANI): The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has extended its ban on the sale and use of firecrackers in the national capital region and all cities and towns across the country where the ambient air quality falls under the 'poor and worse' category until the situation created due to the COVID-19 pandemic improves.
"There will be a total ban on the sale and use of all kinds of firecrackers during COVID-19 pandemic in the NCR and all cities/towns in the country where the ambient air quality falls under the 'poor' and above category," a bench of the NGT, headed by its chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, said in its order on Tuesday.
The tribunal directed to restrict the use of firecrackers in cities and towns, where air quality is 'moderate' or below, to green crackers only and for the duration of not more than two hours and only for the celebration of any specified festivals or permitted occasions will continue.
"Since pandemic is still continuing and is aggravated by the addition of pollution by firecrackers, having the potential of damage to public health, invoking precautionary principle under section 15 and 20 of the NGT Act, 2010, we are satisfied that there is need to continue directions for prohibition and regulation of use of fire crackers during pandemic COVID-19, depending upon air quality with further direction to take coercive measures for non-compliance, including the recovery of compensation and for redressal of claims of victims of such pollution and restoration of the environment," the order said.
"Such festivals be specified by the States. Other than specified festivals, prior permission of the District Magistrate of the area will be required for use of crackers for the limited period which will be given having regard to air quality," it added.
However, the NGT said that during Christmas and New Year, green crackers can be used from 11:55 pm to 12:30 am only at places where air quality is 'moderate' or below as directed by the Supreme Court.
With a view to ensure availability of air quality data, atleast one air quality monitoring station must be set up at every district headquarter at the earliest, the NGT said adding that where no such monitoring station exists, a manual monitoring station which is very easy to set up and is not costly must be installed at the earliest, using simpler procedure like global environment monitoring system.
It said that the air quality data may be placed on the website of the district administration and also at prominent locations in the towns, in the form of AQI, PM2.5 and PM10.
The NGT further directed that the Air Quality Monitoring Committees (AQMC), in terms of earlier order dated October 8, 2018, to coordinate with the district magistrates for the compliance of the directions and also asked the district magistrates in every district to take steps to ensure that banned firecrackers are not sold.
The green tribunal had, on November 9, imposed a total ban on the sale and use of firecrackers in the national capital region from midnight of November 9 to midnight of November 30 in a bid to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic from worsening owing to poor air quality.
The NGT was hearing a suo motu plea initiated during the hearing on various applications, which raised the issue of air pollution by the use of firecrackers in NCR at a time when air quality is at a 'very poor' level and has the potential of worsening the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senior advocate Raj Panjwani with lawyer Shibani Ghosh were appearing as amicus curiae in the matter while advocate Balendu Shekhar was representing the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. (ANI)