The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday ordered a complete ban on the sale and use of firecrackers during the COVID-19 pandemic in the National Capital Region (NCR), and all cities and towns where the ambient air quality is in the ‘poor’ or above categories.
A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel also directed that only green crackers will be permitted for Christmas and New Year, between 11.55 p.m. and 12.30 a.m., in areas where the ambient air quality is in the ‘moderate’ or below categories.
The NGT specified that the use of green crackers will be restricted to two hours for celebration of any “specified festival or permitted occasions”.
The green panel also said at least one air quality monitoring station is required to be set up at every district headquarters.
Noting that firecracker manufacturers have been opposing the ban, the NGT Bench observed: “Right to business is not absolute. There is no right to violate air quality and noise level norms. Nobody has the right to carry on business at the cost of the 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.”
AQI to slightly improve
The 24-hour average Air Quality Index of Delhi was 373 (very poor) on Wednesday, slightly up from 367 (very poor) on Tuesday.
The values for Gurugram and Noida were 324 (very poor) and 394 (very poor), respectively. Delhi’s air quality is expected to improve on Thursday but will stay in the ‘very poor’ category, said SAFAR.