With Diwali and other festivals approaching, several states have imposed restrictions on the buying, selling and exploding of crackers as it degrades air quality and may put a strain on health care facilities already dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. While some states have banned fireworks entirely, others have given a window of a few hours to only detonate green crackers.
On October 29, the Supreme Court said the celebration cannot be at the expense of the health of others and clarified that while there is no complete ban on the use of fireworks, fireworks containing barium salts are prohibited. Deepavali will be celebrated on November 4.
Here is a list of countries that have restricted the buying, selling and exploding of crackers during Diwali and other upcoming festivals:
1. Tamil Nadu
Citing a Supreme Court order banning fireworks containing barium salts, the Tamil Nadu government has warned that action under criminal law should be taken if violations occur. Referring to the Supreme Court order in this regard, the Tamil Nadu government said that the directives of the High Court regarding firecrackers will be fully implemented.
As per the directives, the manufacture of barium salt fireworks as well as ‘Saravedi’ type fireworks (in which individual units are assembled together to make a chain) has been banned in Tamil Nadu, the government said in an official statement.
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The government also said that storing, transporting and selling such products is prohibited, and asked people not to use such prohibited fireworks. The Tamil Nadu government said that as per the norms, action will be taken under the criminal law against violators of the Supreme Court directives.
The Karnataka government has issued an order allowing only green crackers to be sold and set off during this Deepavali, and advised people to strictly adhere to Covid-19 standards. “Other than the green crackers allowed by the Supreme Court in its directives, no other crackers can be sold or exploded,” said an order signed by Chief Secretary B Ravi Kumar.
Noting that vendors who have obtained the necessary permits from relevant departments and authorities can only sell green crackers, she said that the stalls selling green crackers can only be opened from November 1 to 10. The statement added that stalls should be opened away from residential areas and in open grounds, in addition to ensuring adequate ventilation, a distance of 6 meters should be maintained between two cracker stalls.
He also advised people to immediately contact Firefighting 101 in case of emergency, and urged people to be sensitive to infants, the elderly, the sick and animals, apart from not lighting loud fireworks near hospitals.
3. West Bengal
The Calcutta High Court has banned the sale, purchase and use of all fireworks during the Kali Puja, Diwali and other festivities this year to check air pollution amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The court, in passing the order on the Personal Protection Act seeking a ban, said that the term fireworks would cover all kinds of sparks as well as other similar substances, whether or not their explosion or combustion involved any sound or light generation.
“The state shall ensure that no firecrackers of any kind are ever used, displayed or exploded during the celebrations of Kali Puja and Diwali as well as Chat Puja, Jagadhatri Puja, Guru Nanak Birthday, Christmas and New Year celebrations this year,” the court ordered.
The oath board comprising Justices Sabyasachi Bhattacharya and Aniruda Roy directed that only wax or oil-based dias could be used for occasions.
It directed the police to exercise strict vigilance to ensure there are no more sales or purchases of fireworks and to take appropriate measures against those found to be in violation of the order. Thus, the order rescinds a recent notification by the West Bengal Pollution Control Board which allowed the use of ‘green’ firecrackers for a limited period of time in Diwali and Kali Puja.
On October 25, Delhi’s environment minister, Gopal Rai, said strict action would be taken under the relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and Explosives Act against anyone found burning fireworks. “No license to sell firecrackers has been issued this year. Despite the ban, we have received reports of firecrackers being sold,” Al-Rai said at a press conference. The minister said the tops of burning straw around Diwali and the mixture of smoke from farm fires and emissions from fireworks could be fatal to the elderly and children.
The Prime Minister, Arvind Kejriwal, announced the ban on fireworks on September 15, saying they were “essential to save lives”. On September 28, the Delhi Pollution Control Commission ordered a complete ban on the sale and detonation of fireworks in the national capital until January 1, 2022.
The Chhattisgarh government has also directed the officials that the National Green Court’s orders on the use of firecrackers should be strictly enforced during the upcoming Diwali festival and New Year celebrations. Firecrackers can go off during Diwali and Guruparva from 8pm to 10pm; From 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. in Chhath Puja, and from 11.55 p.m. to 12.30 a.m. on New Years and Christmas, as per the guidelines.
Firecrackers that produce high decibel sounds in violation of established limits will not be allowed to be sold. The manufacturer will lose the license if the fireworks are found to contain toxic elements such as lithium, arsenic, antimony, lead and mercury. Online sale of crackers has also been banned.
Maharashtra government has urged people not to set off crackers on this Diwali and has issued directives keeping in mind air pollution and Covid-19. He urged people to celebrate Diwali by lighting a lamp and avoiding fireworks. The state government has also asked the people not to crowd the shopping market on Diwali and to follow the rules of Corona.
The Punjab government has announced a two-hour window to set off green fireworks on Diwali and Gurpur across the state. It has imposed a complete lockdown in Jalandhar and Mandi Gobindgarh, from midnight Wednesday onwards due to poor Air Quality Index (AQI) levels.
The state government has banned the manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and use of fireworks in Punjab and added that only green crackers will be allowed for sale and use. The government order stated that during Diwali, crackers will be allowed to set off from 8 to 10 pm.
The timing of the fireworks is restricted to 35 minutes on Christmas and New Years Eve. Blowing out biscuits is allowed from 11:55 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. on Christmas and from 11:55 p.m. until 12:30 a.m. on New Year’s.
8. Uttar Pradesh
The Uttar Pradesh government has said there will be a complete ban on the sale and use of all types of fireworks in NCR and all cities where air quality falls into the ‘poor’ category or above.
Earlier, the Supreme Court on Thursday dispelled the impression that it is against a particular group or society by banning fireworks and said that it does not allow the rights of citizens to be violated under the guise of enjoyment.
The Assam Pollution Control Authority has imposed a blanket ban on the detonation and sale of firecrackers in the state. According to a report in India today, the council allowed the selling and blasting of green biscuits for only two hours, from 8pm until 10pm during Diwali, from 6am until 8am during Chhath Puja and on Christmas and New Years Eve. From 11:55 pm to 12:30 am.
(with input from PTI)