New Delhi November 9, 2020, UPDATED: November 9, 2020, 12:48 IST
In view of the coronavirus pandemic and deteriorating air quality in the national capital and surrounding areas, the National Green Tribunal has declared a complete ban on the sale or use of all kinds of firecrackers in the national capital region from midnight of November 9 till November 30.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel clarified that the direction will apply to all cities and towns in the country where the average of ambient air quality during November (as per available data of last year) fell under the ‘poor’ and above categories.
“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, Chhath, New Year/Christmas Eve etc., as may be specified by the state concerned.
“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,” the bench said.
The NGT also directed all states and Union Territories to initiate special drives to contain air pollution from all sources in view of the potential of aggravation of Covid-19
The national capital continues to reel under the deteriorating air quality as several places in Delhi on Monday remained in the ‘severe category’ – for the third consecutive day, as per Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
Air Quality Index (AQI) is at 484 in Anand Vihar, 470 in Mundka, 465 Okhla Phase 2 and 468 in Wazirpur, all in ‘severe category’.
Some parts of the capital were also engulfed in smog, a problem that Delhi-NCR struggles with every winter, aggravated by stubble burning in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana.
On Sunday, the air quality remained “severe” in Noida, Greater Noida, Ghaziabad, Faridabad and Gurgaon, affecting healthy people, according to a government agency.
The national capital has hit the peak of the third wave of Covid-19, and the number of cases suggests that it has been the worst since the pandemic arrived in the city, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said on Sunday.
He said the government had no plans yet to rope in hotels and banquet halls to augment the bed capacity for Covid-19 patients as the AAP dispensation had increased the number of beds in hospitals of Delhi.
The national capital has been witnessing a fresh surge in coronavirus cases amid the festive season and rising air pollution.
On Friday, Delhi recorded over 7,000 Covid-19 cases for the first time. The city on Saturday reported 79 deaths, the highest number of fatalities in over four months.