Ban on fireworks: How states will celebrate Diwali this year

While some states grappling with air pollution have gone in for a blanket ban, southern states like Karnataka has approved bursting of green crackers and Tamil Nadu allows bursting crackers without barium content

Bursting crackers can affect the respiratory health of vulnerable groups, besides aggravating health condition of COVID-19 positive persons in home isolation, said the Haryana government banning firecrackers in 14 districts

With Diwali around the corner, the state governments across the country have imposed a slew of restrictions and guidelines on the bursting of firecrackers keeping in mind the pandemic and the alarming levels of air pollution in the cities.

While some states grappling with air pollution have gone in for a blanket ban, southern states like Karnataka has given the nod for bursting green crackers and Tamil Nadu has allowed bursting crackers without barium content. Several northern states and Union Territories like the national capital Delhi, Haryana (in 14 districts), West Bengal, Odisha however have banned the sale and bursting of firecrackers.
 
To start with, Delhi, which suffers from some of the worst levels of air pollution, had banned the sale in September itself. In a series of tweets the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had tweeted that this ban was necessary due to the deteriorating air quality and to save the lives of residents. This ban is in effect till January 1 next year, said media reports.
Meanwhile, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal will perform the Diwali puja, which will be broadcast live, at the Thyagaraj Stadium. The stadium which will also be decorated with a replica of the Ram temple in Ayodhya, said media reports.
Haryana and UP 
In Haryana meanwhile,  the sale and bursting of crackers is banned in 14 districts near Delhi such as Bhiwani, Charkhi Dadri, Faridabad, Gurugram, Jhajjar, Jind, Karnal, Mahendragarh, Nuh, Palwal, Panipat, Rewari, Rohtak and Sonipat.The state government said that bursting crackers can affect the respiratory health of vulnerable groups, besides aggravating the health condition of COVID-19 positive persons in home isolation. It also pointed out the rulings of the National Green Tribunal and the Supreme Court on the issue, said an NDTV report.
The UP government has also prohibited the sale and use of firecrackers in the National Capital Region and all other areas, where the air quality is under the ‘poor category’ or worse. Heavy vehicles have also been prohibited from October 29 to November 7. However, the Yogi Adityanath-led government has like most states given the nod for green crackers. But again, not for more than two hours in areas where air quality falls in the ‘moderate’ or better category.
MP and Rajasthan: Ban in areas of high levels of air pollution
In Madhya Pradesh too, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) banned firecrackers in MP because of the high levels of air pollution. However, people in areas with low pollution can burst green crackers for a period of two hours on Diwali.
This rule applies to Rajasthan as well, as the Congress’ Ashok Gehlot-led Rajasthan government has allowed the sale and use of only “green crackers” in the state. Furthermore, the crackers can be burst between 8pm and 10pm during Diwali and Gurupurab, between 6am and 8am on Chhat Puja, and from 11.55 pm to 12.30am on Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Use and sale of any other form of firecracker is totally prohibited, said a Hindustan Times report.
 
West Bengal and Odisha go for complete ban
This kind of allowance for green crackers and to burst them in a limited window is not available in Mamata Banerjee’s led West Bengal. The state has completely banned the manufacture, sale and use of all kinds of firecrackers, including green crackers, ahead of Diwali and Kali Puja celebrations across the state. Firecrackers will cover all types of sparklers as well as other similar materials, whether or not their bursting or burning involves any sound or light generation, said media reports.
The Kolkata High Court has in fact ordered the state to ensure that there is no use or display or bursting of firecrackers of any type at all during Kali Puja, Diwali celebrations as well as Chhath Puja, Jagadhatri Puja, Guru Nanak’s Birthday and Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations this year. The division bench comprising justices Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya and Aniruddha Roy directed that only wax or oil-based diyas may be used for the occasions.
In neighouring Odisha, to guard against the spread of OVID-19 infection, the state government had last month already ordered a ban on the sale and use of firecrackers in the festive season. 
Assam and Punjab allow green crackers only for two hours
The Assam Pollution Control Board has imposed a blanket ban on the bursting and selling of firecrackers in the state. According to a report in India Today, the board has allowed the selling and bursting of green crackers only for two hours, from 8 pm to 10 pm during Diwali, from 6 am to 8 am during Chhath Puja and on Christmas and on New Year’s Eve from 11:55 pm to 12:30 am.
Punjab too has opted to allow green crackers on Diwali but for a limited time of two hours (between 8 and 10pm) across the state. It has imposed a complete ban in Jalandhar and Mandi Gobindgarh, from Wednesday midnight onwards on account of poor air quality index (AQI) levels.
 
Maharashtra: ‘Light lamps instead’
The Maharashtra government has not banned the use of firecrackers but the state has urged its people to observe coronavirus  guidelines and not venture into crowded spots. It also appealed to people to not burst firecrackers, stating that it would create problems for COVID-19 patients or people recovering from the virus and urged them to opt for celebrations with decorative lights.
 

Karnataka and Tamil Nadu

In new guidelines for Diwali, the Karnataka government on Saturday (October 30) has issued guidelines that only sellers having permission can sell green crackers at designated places outside residential areas between November 1 and 10. It further said that a 6-meter distance between shops is a must, said a report by news agency ANI.
 

The Tamil Nadu is sticking to the Supreme Court order and has banned the manufacture of firecrackers with barium salt content and also the ‘Saravedi’ kind of firecracker (in which single units are clubbed together to make it a string) is prohibited, said the government in an official release.

As per norms, action would be taken under criminal law against violators of the Supreme Court directives, the Tamil Nadu government official order added.
What the Supreme Court said
The Supreme Court has clarified that there is no total ban on the use of firecrackers and only those crackers containing barium salts, chemical crackers or found to be injurious to health are banned.
“It is made clear that there is no total ban on the use of firecrackers, only those firecrackers are banned (joined, chemical) which are found to be injurious to health and affect the health of the citizens particularly the senior citizens and the children,” said a bench of Justices MR Shah and AS Bopanna.

The court has also said any lapse on the part of the state governments/state agencies and Union Territories on this issue shall be viewed “very seriously”.

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Ongoing COVID-19 rules will prevail

The Ministry of Home Affairs has recently said in an order that the ongoing COVID-19 guidelines will prevail till November 30. The decision was taken considering the approaching festive season. On Saturday, on the eve of Diwali, the Centre asked all states and union territories to ensure there is no large gathering and that they take proactive measures to check the spread of coronavirus.

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