With a host of festivities including Diwali, Kali Puja and Chhat Puja around the corner, a number of states have clamped a ban on firecrackers this season, fearing an adverse impact on the prevailing Covid situation. Besides Delhi, which has been grappling with high pollution levels since past few years, many other states have put a bar on the use of crackers to rule out any potential risk of spreading of virus or creating difficulties for those who have already been battling the disease.
The Karnataka government Friday decided to ban the use of firecrackers during Diwali this year, saying it may badly impact the health of those who have already been infected with Covid-19. Speaking to reporters in Bengaluru, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa said, “We have taken a decision to ban firecrackers in the state, in wake of Covid pandemic. The order regarding the ban will be issued soon.”
On Thursday, state health minister Dr K Sudhakar held a meeting with the state’s Covid-19 expert committee and technical advisory committee. The committee had deliberated on the pros and cons of bursting firecrackers and had recommended a ban. “As the smoke can badly impact the health of those who have already been infected by Covid-19 and even those who have not, we will place the committee’s report before the Chief Minister and he will take a final decision within a day or two,” he had said.
The Delhi government had imposed a blanket ban on firecrackers, including those branded ‘green’, between November 7 and 30, with the city reeling under the impact of hazardous air quality and a steep rise in the number of Covid-19 infections.
The decision was announced by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal following a high-level meeting attended by Chief Secretary Vijay Dev and the district magistrates. “Reviewed the corona situation in Delhi and preparedness with Chief Secy, health officials and all DMs. Corona cases have increased due to festival season and pollution. It was decided to ban crackers in Delhi…,” the CM tweeted.
The move comes after the National Green Tribunal had asked if use of fire crackers may be banned between November 7 and 30 “in the interest of public health and environment,” and issued notices Monday to the Union Environment Ministry, CPCB, DPCC, Delhi Police and governments of Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.
The Calcutta High Court had Thursday banned the use and sale of firecrackers on Kali Puja, Chhath and Kartik Puja to curb pollution amid the Covid-19 pandemic. At the hearing of two PILs, the Division Bench of Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Arijit Banerjee said that the guidelines that were in place during Durga Puja to curb crowding will also be in effect during Kali Puja.
“The High Court upheld the petition about banning use and sale of firecrackers during Kali Puja. We wanted the court to extend its Durga Puja-related directives to upcoming Kali Puja, Jagaddhatri Puja, Chhath and Kartik Puja to prevent people from crowding in this pandemic,” said lawyer Savyasachi Chattopadhyay.
Praising the West Bengal government and police for effectively implementing the court’s directives during Durga Puja, the Bench asked the police to do the same in the upcoming festivals.
On Wednesday, the Sikkim government imposed a complete ban on firecrackers throughout the state in view of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, PTI reported. Chief Secretary S C Gupta had issued an order under provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, to impose a complete ban on bursting of firecrackers in the state until further orders. He said that though the active cases in the state are going down and a significant number of patients has recovered from the infection, the increase in air pollution due to the bursting of firecrackers may prove hazardous for the recovered as well as the active patients.
On Tuesday, the Odisha government banned the sale and use of firecrackers across the state during the upcoming festival season to check air pollution which may aggravate complications of COVID-19 patients. The period of the ban is from November 10 to 30, according to a state government order.
The people of the state burst firecrackers on the occasion of Deepavali and Kartik Purnima, which have fallen on November 14 and 30 respectively this year.
“Any person found violating this order shall be punished under the provision of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and other relevant laws,” the order said.
“Considering the potentially harmful consequences of burning of crackers amidst COVID-l9 pandemic situation and approaching winter, Government of Odisha, therefore, prohibits the sale and use of fire crackers from 10th to 30th of November, 2020 in public interest,” news agency PTI quoted chief secretary A K Tripathy as saying.
On Sunday, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had also issued directions to ban the sale of firecrackers and fireworks in order to protect the health of the public and those affected by Covid-19. The CM directed to ensure a ban on temporary licences issued to sell firecrackers. He added that in marriages and functions, use of fireworks be stopped. He also appealed to turn off engines of cars at red lights.
According to a release from the Rajasthan government, Gehlot issued these instructions to officials on Sunday during a meeting and ordered action against vehicles that are unfit and emanate smoke.
Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope too on Thursday hinted at a ban on firecrackers during Diwali and stated that the measure was necessary to shield Covid-19 patients and stall a possible second wave of infections in the state. “People should prepare that they may have to celebrate Diwali without firecrackers this year. The smoke from the firecrackers can cause breathing problems. They are also toxic, causing further issues for Covid patients. We need to ensure that we celebrate a firecracker-free Diwali this year. I am going to put forth a proposal regarding this before the chief minister and the state Cabinet,” Tope told mediapersons.
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