The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has decided to examine whether the use of firecrackers may be prohibited in the National Capital Region (NCR) from November 7 till November 30, 2020, in the interest of public health and environment.
The Bench of Chairperson AK Goel, Judicial Member SK Singh and Expert Members SS Garbyal and Nagin Nanda has issued notices on an application filed by Indian Social Responsibility Network, seeking remedial action against pollution by use of fire crackers in NCR during the time air quality is unsatisfactory with potential of severity of Covid-19 pandemic.
The application refers to the statement of the Union Health Minister and the Health Minister of Delhi that during festive season there will be rise of Covid cases due to air pollution. It was submitted,
"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. Use of green crackers will not remedy the situation. The smoke will choke and may create gas chamber like situation. It will lead to poor visibility, hazy conditions and asphyxia."
In view thereof, the Tribunal has issued notices to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF); Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB); Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), Police Commissioner, Delhi; and the Governments of Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.
"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.
There are also expert views on clear nexus of air pollution with Covid-19.5 With increased air pollution, virus can cause more damage," the Tribunal observed.
It also referred to the Supreme Court's orders in Arjun Gopal v. Union of India, whereby the Top Court had examined the issue of fire crackers in light of right to clean environment.
The Tribunal noted that the Top Court had acknowledged the adverse effects of bursting of crackers on health, and had iterated,
"since under the law, the health of the people has to take precedence over any commercial or other interests, graded regulation of fire crackers was necessary which would eventually result in prohibition."
There are also directions of the Supreme Court with regard to the noise level of the crackers vide judgment In Re: Noise Pollution- implementation of the Laws for Restricting Use of Loudspeakers and High Volume Producing Sound Systems, (2005) 5 SCC 733.
The Tribunal will examine the issue on Thursday, November 5, with the assistance of Senior Advocate Raj Panjwani and Advocate Shibani Ghosh.