Even as Delhi has banned burning of firecrackers this festival season, Punjab has decided to allow crackers in the state on the plea that the air quality is moderate in the state.
The firecrackers industry is worth Rs 175 crore in Punjab.
The state government has, in a reply to National Green Tribunal (NGT) for its notice to states on banning the use of crackers in non-attainment cities, stated that the AQI in these cities has remained in good to satisfactory range.
The government, in its reply to NGT, has stated that “the matter has been considered by the state and it is being apprised that the AQI in non-attainment cities of Amritsar, Ludhiana, Mandi Gobindgarh, Patiala, Jalandhar and Khanna, where Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations (CAAQMS) have been installed, had remained in the moderate range for the months of January and February, in the satisfactory range from March to July, in ‘good’ range for August, satisfactory range for September and moderate in October.
The NGT on November 4 had issued notices to states and UTs that it was considering banning bursting of firecrackers during the time air quality is unsatisfactory with potential of severity of Covid-19.
The government has stated that it has notified the time limits of bursting of crackers as per the Supreme Court orders. As per the notification, the crackers could be burnt between 8 pm and 10 pm on Diwali, between 4 am and 5 am and 9 pm and 10 pm on Gurpurab of Guru Nanak Dev, between 1:55 pm and 12:30 am during Christmas, between 1:55 pm and 12:30 am on New Year’s Eve.
It has also said that after due consideration of the matter in the background of Covid-19 pandemic, the ban on use of crackers is not required in Punjab. “Moreover, no part of the state falls in the National Capital Region. But if the NGT feels otherwise, the state would impose a ban,” the communication further states.
A government official told The Indian Express that this was not the time to ban the crackers. “If the NGT wanted to ban the crackers, they should have discussed the issue six months ago and spoken to the stakeholders”.
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