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NGT Imposes Ban On Use And Sale Of Fire Crackers During COVID19 Pandemic

Akshita Saxena
2 Dec 2020 10:07 AM GMT
NGT Imposes Ban On Use And Sale Of Fire Crackers During COVID19 Pandemic
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NGT (National Green Tribunal) on Tuesday imposed a total ban on sale and use of all kinds of fire crackers during Covid-19 pandemic in the NCR and all cities/towns in the country where the ambient air quality falls under the 'poor' and above category. The Tribunal clarified that its previous direction to restrict use of fire crackers in cities/towns where air quality is 'moderate'...

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NGT (National Green Tribunal) on Tuesday imposed a total ban on sale and use of all kinds of fire crackers during Covid-19 pandemic in the NCR and all cities/towns in the country where the ambient air quality falls under the 'poor' and above category.

The Tribunal clarified that its previous direction to restrict use of fire crackers in cities/towns where air quality is 'moderate' or below to green crackers only and for duration of not more than two hours and only for celebration of any specified festivals or permitted occasions will continue.

The decision was taken in view of the fact that the Pandemic is still continuing and is aggravated by the addition of pollution by fire crackers, having potential of damage to public health.

The Bench took note of a report filed by CPCB which maintained that 'Overall, this year Deepawali has witnessed higher background levels of pollutants during pre-diwali days and further addition of particulates during night from firecrackers.'

In this backdrop, the Bench comprised of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel (Chairperson), Justice Sheo Kumar Singh (Judicial Member), Dr. Satyawan Singh Garbyal (Expert Member) and Dr. Nagin Nanda (Expert Member) invoked the precautionary principle under section 15 and 20 of the NGT Act, 2010 and said,

"we are satisfied that there is need to continue directions for prohibition and regulation of use of fire crackers during pandemic Covid19, depending upon air quality with further direction to take coercive measures for non-compliance, including recovery of compensation and for redressal of claims of victims of such pollution and restoration of environment."

It added,

"noise level norms under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 22 1981 and noise level under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 have to be maintained to give effect to the principle of Sustainable Development of which Precautionary principle is a part. Since mere passing of order does not ensure compliance, necessary coercive measures have to be taken."

Accordingly, it is directed that apart from the scale of compensation, applicable for noise, equal amount of compensation is liable to be paid for violation of air norms. Further, for second violation and more than two violations, deterrent amount in the form of double compensation will be payable. It is clarified that 'second' violation does not mean second day. Second violation includes violation on same day or continuous violation.

On the issue of livelihood of those involved in the firecracker business, the Tribunal said,

"Nobody has a right to carry on business at the cost of health of others. All licenses already given or which may be given are inherently subject to overriding requirement of preventing damage to the environment and the public health."

The Bench noted that the total ban was necessary as its previous directions restricting the use of firecrackers were flouted, leading to "deleterious effect on air quality."

"Citizens Are Entitled To Breathe Fresh Air": NGT Bans Sale/ Use Of Firecrackers In Delhi NCR And Places All Over India With Poor/ Worse AQI

The Amicus had also submitted that there is an established relation of increase of pollution due to use of fire crackers and consequential increase of Covid cases. Thus, it was submitted that use of fire crackers be not allowed so long as Covid continues in the interest of public health.

The following directions have been passed by the Tribunal:

  • There will be total ban on sale and use of all kinds of fire crackers during Covid-19 pandemic in the NCR and all cities/towns in the country where the ambient air quality falls under the 'poor' and above category.
  • Direction to restrict use of fire crackers in cities/towns where air quality is 'moderate' or below to green crackers only and for duration of not more than two hours and only for celebration of any specified festivals or permitted occasions will continue. Such festivals be specified by the States. Other than specified festivals, prior permission of the District Magistrate of the area will be required for use of crackers for limited period which will be given having regard to air quality.
  • During Christmas and New Year, green crackers can be used from 11:55 pm to 12:30 am only at places where air quality is 'moderate' or below as directed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court18.
  • With a view to ensure availability of air quality data, atleast one air quality monitoring station must be set up at every district headquarter at the earliest. Where no such monitoring station exists, atleast a manual monitoring station which is very easy to set up and is not costly must be installed at the earliest, using simpler procedure like GeM. This should not exceed three months in any case. This will be the responsibility of the State PCBs/PCCs from available funds under 'consent mechanism' / 'environmental compensation'. The air quality data may be placed on the website of the District administration and also at prominent locations in the towns, in the form of AQI, PM2.5 and PM10.
  • We further direct that the Air Quality Monitoring Committees (AQMC) in terms of order of this Tribunal dated 08.10.2018 in OA No. 681/201819 to coordinate with the District Magistrates. 20 for compliance of the above directions.
  • The District Magistrates in every district may take steps to ensure that banned fire crackers are not sold in terms of order of the Hon'ble Supreme Court dated 23.10.2018.21
  • The District Magistrate, on a complaint or otherwise, will recover compensation from violators of the above directions on the parameters already mentioned in Para 24 above.
  • Any victim of pollution, apart from other remedies, can approach the District Magistrate for compensation, by showing evidence of individual damage and the person responsible for the damage. Such claim may be dealt with by a reasoned order.
  • If no such claim is made for six months after collection of the compensation, the amount credited to the 'District Environment Compensation Fund' can be spent for restoration of the Environment in the District.
  • The State PCBs/PCCs may compile data of compliance from all the Districts by 28.2.2021 and furnish the same to the CPCB by 15.3.2021. CPCB may file consolidated report in this regard in OA 681/2018 by 31.3.2021.

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