Delhi bans firecrackers; 10-point Winter Action Plan begins to take shape before Diwali

By: |
September 15, 2021 1:49 PM

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted that the decision was taken in view of the dangerous pollution levels during Diwali over the past three years.

delhi diwali cracker banWorsening air pollution could also spark another Covid-19 wave in the city. (File)

Delhi on Wednesday announced a ban on sale, distribution and use of firecrackers due to concern over the National capital’s air pollution level during Diwali. Last year, too, wider Covid-19 spread in the city was attributed to its poor air quality levels.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted that the decision was taken in view of the dangerous pollution levels during Diwali over the past three years, adding that the ban was being imposed to save people’s lives.

The government had imposed a complete ban on all firecrackers last year as well.

Delhi is one of the most polluted cities in the world at the best of times. However, the situation takes a turn for the worse during the year-end due to a toxic mix of exhaust from vehicles and coal-powered plants, construction site dust, and smoke from farmers’ stubble burning crop waste. With summer winds dropping off, the pollutants can linger longer in the air.

A 2018 study found that Diwali caused a small increase in the National Capital’s air pollution. The five-day festival sees revellers setting off sparklers, smoke bombs, and aerial fireworks. These spew heavy noxious gas into the atmosphere that linger for a long time.

Last year, Delhi recorded an Air Quality Index reading of 414 or the severe category — the worst levels since Diwali 2016 — despite the government’s cracker ban.

Worsening air pollution could also spark another Covid-19 wave in the city. A Harvard University has shown that exposure to air pollution over a long-term not only leads to vulnerability against Covid-19 but worse outcomes.

The Delhi government has already tasked its different departments and municipal corporations with preparing air pollution action plans by September 21. These plans will become part of the state’s Winter Action Plan.

At a review meeting on Tuesday, different government departments were allocated focus points from the 10-point action plan, Environment Minister Gopal Rai told The Indian Express.

The development department will prepare an action plan on stubble burning. Government agencies that carry out constructions will submit a plan on dust pollution control. The transport department and traffic police will create a plan for vehicular pollution, including higher scrutiny of pollution certificates. The municipal corporations will prevent garbage burning by removing the waste on time. The environment department, on the other hand, will collaborate with the Centre and other states.

To bring dust pollution under control, the municipal corporations, Delhi Development Authority, New Delhi Municipal Council, State Public Works Department, Central Public Works Department, Irrigation and Flood Control Department, and Cantonment Board will prepare an action plan on mechanical road sweeping, dust suppression chemical procurement, dust disposal plan, and training staff.

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