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NGT seeks response from Centre, states on banning crackers from November 7 to 30 in Delhi

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New Delhi (ILNS): The National Green Tribunal (NGT) today has sought the opinion of the Ministry of Environment and Forest, Central Pollution Control Board and other states on the issue of banning firecrackers from November 7 to 30 in a plea alleging that the increase in pollution may deteriorate the COVID-19 pandemic situation in Delhi.

A bench comprising Chairperson Justice Adarsh K. Goel, Justice Sheo Kumar Singh, Dr Satyawan Singh Garbyal and Dr Nagin Nanda noted that there are also expert views on the clear nexus of air pollution with Covid-19. With increased air pollution, the virus can cause more damage.

The application has been filed by Indian Social Responsibility Network through Santosh Gupta referring to the statement of the Union Health Minister and the Health Minister of Delhi that during the festive season there will be a rise of Covid cases due to air pollution.

The plea further stated that Increased pollution may further affect the vulnerable groups and increase the fatality rate. Covid cases in Delhi may go up to 15,000 per day, as against the current cases of about 5,000 per day. The use of green crackers will not remedy the situation. The smoke will choke and may create a gas chamber like situation. It will lead to poor visibility, hazy conditions, and asphyxia.

However, the bench referring to the 2017 Judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Arjun Gopal v. Union of India noted that

“…cases do not consider Covid-19 situation when the adverse effect may be so severe that number of deaths of children, senior citizens and other vulnerable persons may increase. Number of diseases may also increase. There are reports in public domain that air quality of Delhi is deteriorating and further deterioration may give rise to increase in Covid cases. 4 It is well known that the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) has been introduced envisaging prohibiting of polluting activities if the air quality deteriorates. The Air Quality Index (AQI) is reported to be averaging between 410 and 450 i.e. ‘hazardous’ category. Fire crackers emit poisonous gases like SO2, NOX, CO as well as the metal besides creating noise. In the given climatic conditions, this may result in respiratory/pulmonary diseases, diabetic, hypertension and other diseases.”

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The bench has sought responses from MoEF&CC, CPCB, DPCC, Police Commissioner, Delhi, Governments of Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan on the question whether the use of firecrackers maybe banned for the period from November 7 to 30 and has appointed Senior Advocate Raj Panjwani and Advocate Shibhi Ghosh to assist the court as amicus curie in the matter.

The bench has listed the matter for further hearing on November 5.

Read the order here;

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