The National Green Tribunal on 1 December 2020 issued various directions and extended the total ban on sale and use of all kinds of firecracker in the Delhi/NCR and all cities/towns in the country where the ambient air quality falls under the ‘poor’ and above category.
The tribunal sought remedial action against pollution by use of fire crackers, aggravating the menace of Covid- 19 pandemic, posing higher danger to the lives and health of the vulnerable groups
Directions Issued by the National Green Tribunal
On December 1, 2020, National Green Tribunal issued directions on sale of Firecracker and its use which read as under:
- There will be total ban on sale and use of all kinds of fire crackers 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.
- Direction to restrict use of fire crackers in cities/towns where air quality is ‘moderate’ or below to green crackers only and for duration of not more than two hours and only for celebration of any specified festivals or permitted occasions will continue. Such festivals be specified by the States. 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.
- 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 as directed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court18.
- With a view to ensure availability of air quality data, atleast one air quality monitoring station must be set up at every district headquarter at the earliest. Where no such monitoring station exists, at least a manual monitoring station which is very easy to set up and is not costly must be installed at the earliest, using simpler procedure like GeM. This should not exceed three months in any case. This will be the responsibility of the State PCBs/PCCs 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 in the towns, in the form of AQI, PM2.5 and PM10.
- We further direct that the Air Quality Monitoring Committees (AQMC) in terms of order of this Tribunal dated 08.10.2018 in OA No. 681/201819 to coordinate with the District Magistrates. 20 for compliance of the above directions.
- The District Magistrates in every district may take steps to ensure that banned fire crackers are not sold in terms of order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court dated 23.10.2018.21
- The District Magistrate, on a complaint or otherwise, will recover compensation from violators of the above directions on the parameters already mentioned in Para 24 above.
- Any victim 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.
The bench pointed out that “mere passing of order does not ensure compliance, necessary coercive measures have to be taken.”
The bench headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel observed that “Since Pandemic is still continuing and is 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 during pandemic Covid- 19, depending upon air quality with further direction to take coercive measures for non-compliance, including recovery of compensation and for redressal of claims of victims of such pollution and restoration of environment.”
The bench also directed that an amount of Rs. 1 lakh and Rs. 25,000/- respectively may be paid by the CPCB to Shri Raj Panjwani, Senior Advocate and Ms. Shibani Ghosh, Advocate, as a token honorarium for assisting the Tribunal as Amicus.