New Delhi: In a fresh directive, the National Green Tribunal has directed that there would be a total ban on the sale and use of all kinds of firecrackers during COVID-19 pandemic in the NCR and all cities/towns in the country where the ambient air quality falls under the ‘poor’ and above category.
The green panel, however, said during Christmas, and new year, green crackers can be used from 11:55 pm to 12:30 am only at places where air quality is ‘moderate’ or below.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said its direction to restrict the use of firecrackers in cities/towns where air quality is ‘moderate’ or below to green crackers and for the duration of not more than two hours will continue.
Other than specified festivals, prior permission of the District Magistrate of the area will be required for use of crackers for limited period which will be given having regard to air quality, the tribunal said.
“There will be a total ban on the sale and use of all kinds of firecrackers during COVID-19 pandemic in the NCR and all cities/towns in the country where the ambient air quality falls under the ‘poor’ and above category,” the bench said.
Since pandemic is still continuing and aggravated by the addition of pollution by fire crackers, having potential of damage to public health, invoking precautionary principle under section 15 and 20 of the NGT Act, 2010, we are satisfied that there is need to continue directions for prohibition and regulation of use of fire crackers, the bench said.
It directed all District Magistrates to ensure that banned firecrackers are not sold and asked them to recover compensation from violators.
Any victim of pollution, apart from other remedies, can approach District Magistrate for compensation, it added.
Any victims of pollution, apart from other remedies can approach the District Magistrate for compensation, by showing evidence of individual damage and the person responsible for the damage. Such claim may be dealt with by a reasoned order, it said.
The NGT also directed that at least one air quality monitoring station must be set up at every district headquarter at the earliest.
Where no such monitoring station exists, atleast a manual monitoring station which is very easy to set up and is not costly must be installed at the earliest, using simpler procedures… This should not exceed three months in any case.
This will be the responsibility of the state pollution control boards from available funds under ‘consent mechanism’ / ‘environmental compensation’. The air quality data may be placed on the website of the District administration and also at prominent locations, the bench said.
The green panel also directed that an amount of Rs. 1 lakh and Rs. 25,000 respectively may be paid by the CPCB to senior advocate Raj Panjwani and advocate Shibani Ghosh as a token honorarium for assisting the NGT as Amicus.
The tribunal had registered the matter as suo moto (on its own) after a plea sought action against pollution by use of firecrackers in NCR during COVID-19 pandemic.