With every year the air pollution increasing manifold after bursting of firecrackers during Diwali, this year these six states and a UT have taken a major decision.

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Ahead of the festival of Diwali, several states and UT governments have taken a major decision to ban firecrackers due to the rising cases of coronavirus.

The pollution caused by them increases the risk of COVID-19 patients. The air pollution in India as the winter sets in has been a matter of concern especially in the national capital and its surrounding areas.

Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on November 5 decided to ban firecrackers in the national capital after reviewing the COVID-19 situation. The Delhi CM said, “Coronavirus cases have increased due to the festival season and pollution. It was decided to ban crackers in Delhi and ramp up medical infrastructure, among other measures.” 

He appealed people to shun firecrackers for the safety of their kids and family. He said, “we will celebrate Diwali together and won’t burst firecrackers in any condition. There will be a wonderful atmosphere and good vibes as two crore people will perform Laxmi Pujan. It will lead to well being in each household.” 

The CM added that he will be performing Lakshmi Puja at 7.39 pm on November 14, along with other Delhi Cabinet Ministers, which will be live-streamed, and appealed Delhiite to join in the Diwali celebrations by performing Lakshmi Puja at their homes.

Maharashtra: As Maharashtra struggles with the coronavirus cases, the state government on November 6 issued guidelines for the citizens to keep in mind while celebrating Diwali. The government cautioned against bursting crackers citing ecological concerns as it damages the environment and adds to the air pollution and noise pollution. 

In the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic, it cited the health of coronavirus patients both the people who are infected and the ones who have recovered as a concern. The guidelines request the citizens to not burst firecrackers and to celebrate the ‘festival of lights’ by lighting lamps. 

Meanwhile, the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) imposed a ban on the bursting of firecrackers at public places during Diwali in view of rising COVID-19 cases in the city. Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani announced on Thursday that violators shall be penalized and the SOPs in this regard would be issued shortly.

The BMC said that the ban has been proposed in view of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the early winter that has set in. A BMC official said that bursting firecrackers would release a lot of smoke and other pollutants which would adversely impact the health of COVID-19 patients and increase the risk of infection among the other high-risk categories like children or senior citizens.

Karnataka: Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on November 6 said the state government will be issuing an order banning the use of firecrackers during Diwali. “We have discussed it (cracker ban), we are taking a decision to ban the use of firecrackers during Deepavali. The government will soon be issuing an order to this effect,” Yediyurappa said.

Speaking to reporters, he said due to COVID and related reasons the use of firecrackers is being banned this time. State Health Minister K Sudhakar on Thursday said firecrackers can badly impact the health of those who have already been infected by coronavirus. He also said experts have advised to control their use, and a final decision will be taken after consultation with the Chief Minister.

West Bengal: The Calcutta High Court on November 5 ordered a ban on bursting of all kinds of crackers or fireworks for Kali Puja, Diwali, and Chhatpuja in West Bengal, besides putting a ban on the sale of firecrackers in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. A division bench of justices Sanjib Banerjee and Arijit Banerjee gave the direction while hearing Public Interest Litigations (PILs). 

Odisha: The Odisha government on November 3 banned the sale and use of firecrackers across the state during the festive season to check air pollution which can aggravate health conditions of COVID-19 patients. The period of the ban is from November 10 to 30, according to a government order.

The people of the state burst firecrackers on the occasion of Deepavali and Kartik Purnima, which fell on November 14 and 30 respectively this year. Chief Secretary A K Tripathy issued a direction to prohibit sale and use of firecrackers in all parts of the state from November 10 to 30. “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 firecrackers from 10th to 30th of November, 2020 in the public interest,” the chief secretary said.

Rajasthan: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on November 2 announced that the state has taken the decision to ban the sale and bursting of firecrackers. He tweeted, “State govt has taken the decision to ban the sale and bursting of firecrackers in order to protect the health of COVID-19 infected patients & public from poisonous smoke emanating due to fireworks. In this challenging corona pandemic time, protecting lives of ppl is paramount for govt.”

The chief minister also appealed to people to celebrate Diwali without firecrackers, saying pollution caused by them increases the risk for coronavirus patients. He said as per the advice of medical experts, the festival should be celebrated without crackers. 

Air pollution is an important cofactor increasing the risk of mortality from COVID-19 as per latest research, the National Green Tribunal was informed on Thursday.

Senior advocate Raj Panjawani and advocate Shibhani Ghosh, who has been appointed by the tribunal as amicus curiae in a case related to ban on firecrackers, told a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice A K Goel that particulate air pollution contributed 15 per cent to COVID-19 mortality worldwide.

“The latest research on exposure to air pollution and risk of death from COVID-19 infection suggests that ‘air pollution is an important cofactor increasing the risk of mortality from COVID- 19’,” they said. “The study also states that this finding should provide ‘extra motivation for combining ambitious policies to reduce air pollution with measures to control the transmission of COVID- 19’. The study estimates that particulate air pollution contributed 15 per cent to COVID-19 mortality worldwide,” they added.

The NGT had on November 2 issued notice to Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and four state governments on whether the use of firecrackers be banned from November 7 to 30 in the interest of public health and environment.

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