Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi Government has decided to impose a ban on firecrackers for a third consecutive year. In a tweet, Chief Minister Kejriwal said, “In view of the dangerous condition of Delhi’s Pollution during Diwali for the last three years, like last year, a complete ban is being imposed on the storage, sale and use of all types of firecrackers. So that people’s lives can be saved.”
पिछले साल व्यापारियों द्वारा पटाखों के भंडारण के पश्चात प्रदूषण की गंभीरता को देखत हुए देर से पूर्ण प्रतिबंध लगाया गया जिससे व्यापारियों का नुकसान हुआ था। सभी व्यापारियों से अपील है कि इस बार पूर्ण प्रतिबंध को देखते हुए किसी भी तरह का भंडारण न करें।— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) September 15, 2021
The Delhi government also asked traders, not to stock firecrackers. In a follow-up tweet, Kejriwal added, “In view of the seriousness of pollution after the stocking of firecrackers by traders last year, a complete ban was imposed late, which caused losses to the traders. It is an appeal to all the traders that this time in view of the complete ban, do not do any kind of storage.”
Firecrackers ban in Delhi
This is for the third time the Delhi government has imposed a ban on firecrackers in Delhi on the occasion of the Hindu festival Diwali. The argument that the government gives is that because of the firecrackers, the pollution level rises in Delhi, which causes health problems for the residents. Interestingly, the Delhi government took almost negligible steps to do anything about the stubble burning in the neighbouring states, especially in Punjab, which is evidently the main cause of the Pollution in the national capital.
Supreme Court refused to consider the IIT study on firecrackers
In July 2021, the Supreme Court of India dumped an IIT study that showed firecrackers are not a major cause of Pollution and dismissed the plea against the ban on firecrackers. A Bench comprising of Justices AM Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna refused to accept the IIT study, saying they do not need IIT to know that firecrackers cause Pollution. Justice Khanwilkar lashed out at the study, saying, “Do you need IIT to understand that firecrackers impact your health? Ask someone staying in Delhi what happens during Diwali.”
The Bench, while dismissing the plea, said the authorities might permit the sale and use of firecrackers if the air quality (AQI) improves. The court further added, “NGT Order is a graded approach taken by the Tribunal to the prevailing situation. No clarification is needed. It was expressed that manufacturing activities will also be prohibited in the concerned area if the AQ falls. The (NGT) order does not deal with that. If the situation is covered by earlier general directions of this court, it must be followed in letter and spirit. these appeals are devoid of merit and are dismissed.”
The IIT-Kanpur study
A 2017 IIT-Kanpur report suggested that the burning of firecrackers was one of the least contributors to air pollution in Delhi. It said evidence suggests that construction dust may be the biggest culprit when it comes to air pollution followed by vehicular Pollution and bad infrastructure. It further added that the air quality of NCR deteriorated irrespective of the fact that no firecrackers were burnt during the time of the study.
Stubble burning – a major factor in air pollution in Delhi
Multiple reports have suggested that the stubble burning incidents in neighbouring states dominantly in Punjab is one of the major reasons for air pollution in Delhi. Every year, close to the date of Diwali, the farmers of Punjab started to burn stubble to get rid of the residual crop after harvesting. Such stubble burning incidents have caused a spike in air pollution, which has been reported multiple times. Despite the efforts by the central government, state governments like Punjab failed to control stubble burning, and the year 2020 saw the highest number of such incidents in four years. Reports suggested that Punjab government even refused to help the farmers with the stubble issue.
Interestingly, just a day ago, on September 14, Delhi Government had urged the neighbouring states to use PUSA Bio Decomposer to control incidents of stubble burning. PUSA Bio Decomposer is said to decompose stubble in less than a month and make compost out of it. However, instead of waiting for a reply from the neighbouring states, the Delhi government decided to impose a ban on firecrackers that are not even in the top pollutants in the national capital.
Notably, Bharatiya Janata Party, Delhi, has accused Delhi Government to spend crores on the advertisement of Bio Decomposer.
रोज-रोज झूठ बोलना CM की आदत बन गयी है।— BJP Delhi (@BJP4Delhi) September 13, 2021
यह है Bio-Decomposer का सच,
• Bio-Decomposer खरीदा ₹75,000 में
• उसका वितरण किया ₹24 लाख में
• उसके प्रचार पर उड़ाए ₹7Cr
• दी कितने किसानों को? मात्र 310
ऐसे दिल्ली की जनता का पैसा बर्बाद कर रहे हैं केजरीवाल जी-श्री @adeshguptabjp pic.twitter.com/YEVzOd9LUe
In a statement on September 13, Adesh Gupta, President BJP Delhi, said that the Delhi Government bought the decomposer for Rs 75,000 and spent Rs 24 lakh on its distribution. Further, he alleged that the government had spent Rs 7 crores on its promotion, but the decomposer reached only 310 farmers.