After a blanket ban of two years, the Chandigarh Administration on Friday allowed use of green crackers from 8 pm to 10 pm on Diwali.
The decision, taken by UT Administrator Banwarilal Purohit ahead of the festive season, states that “residents of the City Beautiful will be able to burst green crackers for a specific time period”. The residents will be allowed the use of green crackers on Diwali (from 8.00 pm to 10.00 pm), Dussehra for burning of effigies and on Gurpurab (from 4.00 am to 5.00 am and 9.00 pm to 10.00 pm).
The apex court in its orders passed on October 23, 2018, in the case of Arjun Gopal & others Vs Union of India and Others (CWP No. 726 of 2015), had allowed the sale of green crackers on Diwali or other festivals like Gurpurab from 8.00 pm to 10.00 pm only.
“Further, NGT Principal Bench, New Delhi, vide its orders dated 1.12.2020 also allowed to restrict use of the crackers in cities/towns where air quality is moderate or below. It was also directed that use of green crackers only would be allowed and that too for duration of not more than two hours,” it was said.
It was added, “As per the detailed report on Air Quality Index received from the Chandigarh Pollution Control Committee, the air quality during the Diwali month in the year 2020 and 2021 was found to be moderate/satisfactory, therefore the Chandigarh Administration has allowed the use of green crackers in the city.”
The green crackers have been developed by the National Environmental and Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), a subsidiary of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
The general secretary of the Chandigarh Crackers Dealers Association, Chirag Aggarwal, told The Indian Express that “they are happy with the decision of the administration”. “For the last two years, we have had a lukewarm Diwali due to no sales. We are happy that the administration heard our plea,” he said.
What cracker dealers had said
The cracker dealers had sent in a representation to Deputy Commissioner Vinay Pratap Singh.
Just before the festival season last year, the Chandigarh Administration had imposed a ban on the sale or use of crackers of any kind throughout the city and this had annoyed the cracker dealers who had even protested saying that the cracker bursting and selling was allowed in Panchkula and Mohali.
However, the UT had said that they had taken the decision after consulting the environment and health experts. In 2020 as well, due to COVID, the Chandigarh Administration had imposed a ban on bursting and selling crackers.
In their representation just last week, the members of the crackers’ association had said that Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and other states had already allowed the sale and bursting of crackers as per the directions of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and the Supreme Court.
In the memorandum they had specified that “green crackers had been developed by the National Environmental and Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), a subsidiary of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)” and that “after carrying out tests by the CSIR-NEERI, licences had been issued to manufacture green crackers and that the green crackers don’t contain aluminium, barium, potassium nitrate or carbon, making these eco-friendly”.
While requesting the DC not to impose a ban and issue licence for the sale of such crackers on Diwali and Gurpurab, they specified that “barium nitrate was responsible for heavy smoke and emissions and green crackers contain lesser or no barium at all and green crackers not only reduce air pollution, but also have a sound level of 100-110 decibels in comparison to the traditional crackers that emitted about 160 decibels of sound”.
Different cracker decisions since 2017
In 2017, the administration had allowed sale and use of crackers for three days on Diwali, Gurpurab and Dussehra. In 2018 and 2019, the administration had allowed the sale and use of crackers from 8 pm to 10 pm. In 2020 and 2021, there was a blanket ban on sale and use of crackers.