Indian court bans firecrackers in most polluted cities over Covid-19 risk
New Delhi, Nov 9 (efe-epa).- A special court for environment related cases on Monday banned the sale of firecrackers in India’s most polluted cities, to contain the surge in air pollution witnessed every year during the Hindu festival of Diwali especially amid the risk posed by the Covid-19 crisis.
The ban on firecrackers, widely set off during Diwali – that falls on Saturday this year – and other religious festivals, comes amid concerns that it use may aggravate the “menace of Covid-19 pandemic, posing higher danger to the lives and health of the vulnerable groups,” the National Green Tribunal (NGT) said in its ruling.
The sale and use of firecrackers will now be banned until next month in New Delhi and in cities that record “poor” air quality in the air quality index (AQI), said the NGT.
In cities where the AQI is found to be “moderate”, environmentally friendly or “green” firecrackers may be sold.
However, the use of even these firecrackers, which in theory are less polluting, will be restricted to a two-hour window.
While in previous years, the courts have imposed partial bans on the burning of firecrackers, the current ruling comes after several Indian states imposed their own restrictions over fears of experiencing an increase in the novel coronavirus cases due to the increased risk posed by rising air pollution.
In New Delhi, which the authorities say is witnessing a third wave of infections, 7,745 fresh Covid-19 cases were reported on Monday, as air quality levels reached severe levels since last month.
India has registered over 8.5 million cases of the disease, the second highest worldwide after the United States, and more than 1,26,000 deaths so far.
Each year during the winter months between October and February, air pollution rises sharply in the northern Indian cities posing a respiratory health risk.
Several factors contribute to this surge, such as industrial activity, emission from automobiles and burning of stubble – crop residue after harvest – in the fields of northern India.
The large amount of firecrackers burned during Diwali leave the air particularly unbreathable in the days after the festival, as several cities are enveloped in a thick cloud of smoke and suspended toxic particles. EFE-EPA