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"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

Akshita Saxena
9 Nov 2020 6:39 AM GMT
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
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The National Green tribunal on Monday imposed a total ban on sale/ use of all kinds of firecrackers in Delhi NCR from the midnight of November 9-10, 2020 to the midnight of November 30 - December 1, 2020. The direction will also apply to all cities/ towns in the country where the average of ambient air quality during November (as per available data of last year) fall under 'poor' and...

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The National Green tribunal on Monday imposed a total ban on sale/ use of all kinds of firecrackers in Delhi NCR from the midnight of November 9-10, 2020 to the midnight of November 30 - December 1, 2020.

The direction will also apply to all cities/ towns in the country where the average of ambient air quality during November (as per available data of last year) fall under 'poor' and above category.

Further, places where AQI is moderate or below are permitted to sell green crackers and there use may be restricted to two hours during festivals.

The direction was passed by a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, in a batch of petitions seeking remedial action against pollution by use of fire crackers in NCR. The order states,

"Having regard to increased adverse health impact of pollution by use of crackers on Covid-19, aggravating risk to lives and health which has led to ban by the Governments of Odisha, Rajasthan, Sikkim, UT Chandigarh, DPCC and by the Calcutta High Court on sale and use of crackers,, applying the 'Sustainable Development' and 'Precautionary' principles, a case is made out for issuing directions for banning sale and use of fire crackers during November 9 to 30 in areas where air quality is 'poor', 'very poor' and 'severe'."

Reliance is placed on the Supreme Court's verdict in Arjun Gopal v. Union of India, (2017) 1 SCC 412, whereby it was held that health of the people had to take precedence over the commercial interest and instead of straightaway prohibiting crackers, there has be graded regulation, resulting in prohibition.

During the last hearing, the Tribunal had issued notices to 18 States and Union Territories, in addition to Delhi NCR, to consider measures for improving the air quality.

Today the bench also comprised of Judicial Member SK Singh and Expert Members SS Garbyal and Nagin Nanda directed,

"There will be total ban against sale or use of all kinds of fire crackers in the NCR from midnight of November, 9 -10, 2020 to the midnight of November 30 - December 1, 2020, to be reviewed thereafter.

Direction (i) will also apply to all cities/towns in the country where the average of ambient air quality during November (as per available data of last year) fall under 'poor' and above category.

The cities/towns where air quality is 'moderate' or below, only green crackers be sold and the timings for use and bursting of crackers be restricted to two hours during festivals, like Diwali, Chatt, New Year/Christmas Eve etc., as may be specified by the concerned State."

It clarified that if nothing is specified by the State, timing will be 8 to 10 pm on Diwali and Gurupurb, 6 am to 8 am on Chatt and 11.55 pm to 12.30 am during Christmas and New year eve (which have yet to come and do not fall in November but if ban continues) and not otherwise.

The Tribunal observed that While it is true that any restriction on sale and use of crackers may affect the business and employment, at the same time if use of crackers results in pollution and affects life and health of the citizens and the environment, such use may have to be restricted/prohibited to effectuate the 'Sustainable Development' principle of which 'Precautionary' principle is a part.

"Financial loss or loss of employment cannot be a consideration not to remedy the situation affecting lives and health of the citizens by pollution, aggravated by Covid…Citizens are entitled to breathe fresh air which right cannot be defeated on the ground that enforcement of such right will lead to closing of such business activity. If authorities, do not take action, the Tribunal has to exercise its jurisdiction," it has held.

The Tribunal has further stated that at other places, ban/restrictions are optional for the authorities but if there are more stringent measures under orders of the authorities, the same will prevail.

Other directions:

  • All States/UTs/PCBs/PCCs may initiate special drives to contain air pollution from all sources in view of potential of aggravation of Covid-19.
  • The Chief Secretaries and DGPs of all the States/UTs may issue and circulate an appropriate order in above terms with appropriate enforcement guidelines to all the District Magistrates and Superintendents of Police, PCBs/PCCs.
  • The CPCB and the State PCBs/PCCs may regularly monitor the air quality during this period which may be uploaded on their respective websites. CPCB may compile information on the subject, including the status of compliance of this order from all the States/UTs and file a consolidated report with data compiled till filing of report, before the next date by e-mail at [email protected] preferably in the form of searchable PDF/OCR Support PDF and not in the form of Image PDF.

Click Here To Download Order

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