New Delhi [India], November 14 (ANI): Senior citizens and pet owners in Delhi breathed a sigh of relief with the National Green Tribunal's (NGT) order to ban firecrackers in the national capital this Diwali owing to rising pollution levels amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Several lauded the move, saying that not only were the crackers contributing to the hazardous pollution levels, but they were also especially harmful considering the increasing number of coronavirus cases in the state.
"Diwali is not about firecrackers. It can be celebrated by lighting diyas and lamps also. If we burn crackers for one year nothing will happen. We not only have a pollution problem but we also have COVID-19 this year. This decision is for the best. This is a very good decision and I hope that Delhiites adhere to this," said a senior citizen.
"Diwali comes once a year and everyone should celebrate it and enjoy themselves. But they should do so without crackers and all the noise. Pollution levels are through the roof. Even in Karva Chauth, we could barely see the mood. People can buy gifts and meet their families instead," said a resident who was taking a stroll in a Delhi park.
While the Air Quality Index (AQI) in Delhi continues to toggle between the 'very poor' and 'severe' category, senior asthmatic patients expressed their plight saying that the pollution has made them reach out for their inhalers more often.
"The ban will definitely help keep pollution levels in control, but only if people follow it strictly. I am an asthmatic patient and I can feel the pollution levels getting worse and worse, especially in the last three years. My family is seriously considering moving out of Delhi because of this. I find myself reaching for my inhaler much more than often now," said another senior citizen.
Animal lovers, on the other hand, expressed relief as dogs, cats and birds are often traumatised and hurt during Diwali and do not cope well with loud sounds.
Gauri Maulekhi, an animal rights activist with People for Animals told ANI that animals often get sick and traumatised due to stress caused by loud noises during Diwali.
"Firecrackers do not have any religious significance and are not really related to Diwali. By burning crackers, we have spoilt our environment and have completely sidelined animals. They lose their appetite, they get sick due to stress, and several animals on the street suffer injuries due to crackers," Maulekhi said.
"Birds are traumatised when crackers are burnt at night. For two seconds of excitement, we cause so much damage. Street animals are tortured terribly and don't even have a place to hide. They often eat leftovers of crackers and die. This is a brilliant step by the NGT and I hope that everyone enforces it," she added.
Another pet-owner in Delhi said, "Dogs hear three-time louder sounds than us. It gets really painful for them to hear cracker sounds."
The National Green Tribunal on Monday 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.
Meanwhile, Delhi reported 7,802 new COVID-19 cases and 91 deaths on Friday, taking the total cases to 4,74,830. (ANI)