Firecracker ban: Dark Diwali for sellers as Chhattisgarh follows Delhi suit

File photo of workers making crackers at a factory
Following the Supreme Court judgement on banning the sale of firecrackers till 1 November in Delhi-NCR, the Chhattisgarh government on Tuesday imposed a ban on the use of firecrackers with high decibels during Diwali. Further, Devendra Fadnavis-led Maharashtra government has banned only those crackers that cause noise pollution. 

While the decision comes as a relief to most, firecracker sellers are bearing the brunt of the move. (Read how the ban will affect shopkeepers)

Chhattisgarh firecracker ban

A restriction has been imposed on the sale of firecrackers that produce noise above 125 decibel or 145 decibel for four meters in the entire state.

A distance of at least 100 metres should be maintained from hospitals, educational institutes, religious places while bursting crackers, said Chhattisgarh Environment Conservation Board (CECB) Chairman Aman Kumar Singh.

Moreover, the bursting of the firecrackers will be prohibited between 10 pm to 6 am.

Officials have also been asked to undertake public awareness campaign to apprise people with the ill effects of crackers beside informing them about air and noise pollution. 

Instructions have also been given to division commissioners and collector to prevent burning of straw in paddy fields after harvesting in the ongoing Kharif crop season to check air pollution. (More details here)

Maharashtra mulls banning firecrackers

Bombay High Court has reiterated that there should be no sale of firecrackers in residential areas this Diwali. A division bench headed by Chief Justice Manjula Chellur said this while rejecting a petition filed by two firecrackers sellers associations.

Besides banning crackers that lead to noise pollution, Bombay High Court on Tuesday reiterated that firecrackers must not be sold at residential areas, according to media reports.  

A division bench headed by Chief Justice Manjula Chellur said this while rejecting two firecracker’s petition seeking temporary licences to set up their shops in residential areas. The Bench referred to an order by the high court last year, when another Bench of the court had directed civic bodies in the state to inspect and re-verify licences issued in every ward for selling firecrackers ahead of Diwali, and to ensure that safety measures were put in place to avoid accidents.

Senior Shiv Sena leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut, however, said the livelihood of scores of Marathi youth depended on the firecracker business and demanded the government refrain from imposing any ban. "What great work are you doing by snatching the livelihood when you cannot give them employment? Firecrackers are burst in 199 countries around the world," he claimed.

Firecracker sellers see Diwali going up in smoke

With their losses projected to run into crores, wholesale dealers of firecrackers in New Delhi and Chhattisgarh can see their Diwali going up in smoke.

500 temporary licences have already been issued to sell firecrackers in Delhi-NCR.  This does not include those who have a permanent licence.

"We are selling crackers, not nuclear weapons that you impose a ban. This is India, not Taliban that you can go on banning things like this," Chhabra told PTI.

"This is not child's play. They have revoked the old ban only to bring it again. What do we do with these crackers that we bought," another seller added, showing his licence giving him permission to sell crackers till November 21.

A banner saying "Patake hi Patake" was pulled down in Delhi to make way for a new one declaring, "Nashe se mar rahe hai log, Patakon se nahi (People are dying because of drugs, not of crackers".

Many of them said they were just getting over the blow of 28 per cent GST on crackers.

It was reportedly informed by a council that 5 million kg of fireworks were stocked in and around the National Capital Region.

Will Delhiites breathe a sigh of relief?

With the Supreme Court banning the sale of firecrackers in the Delhi-NCR region till after Diwali, can Delhiites breathe a sigh of relief? 

Not yet, say experts. The air of Delhi is saturated with pollutants, and the city's dark clouds would need more than this silver lining. 

Going by the prevailing conditions, wherein the air quality is already 'very poor' in many parts of the city, the situation may spiral out of control if firecrackers are set off indiscriminately during Diwali, according to SAFAR.

However, the 24-hour average AQI (air quality index) is 'poor', a shade better than 'very poor', it said. A "very poor" AQI essentially means that people may suffer from respiratory illness on prolonged exposure to such air. On further dip in air quality, the AQI will turn "severe".

According to the report, many gaseous pollutants emitted due to the bursting of firecrackers remain airborne for days, posing danger to children and unborn babies. (More details here)

The apex court, yesterday, permitted the sale of firecrackers only from November one, 12 days after Diwali. 

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