The Punjab government has told the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that there is no need for a ban on use of fire crackers as no part of the state falls in the National Capital Region (NCR).
It said Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations (CAAQMS) have been installed in the non-attainment cities of Amritsar, Ludhiana, Mandi Gobindgarh, Patiala, Jalandhar and Khanna and the Air Quality Index (AQI) remained in the range of good in August, satisfactory in September and moderate in October.
It said the Punjab government had notified the time restrictions on bursting of fire crackers during Diwali, Gurpurab, Christmas and New Year by issuing public notice in various newspaper through the State Pollution Control Board.
“In view of the above stated facts and after due consideration of the matter in the background of COVID-19 pandemic, it is respectfully apprised that ban on the use of fire crackers is not required in the state of Punjab,” it said.
The NGT was earlier informed that air pollution is an important co-factor increasing the risk of mortality from COVID-19 as per latest research.
Senior advocate Raj Panjawani and advocate Shibhani Ghosh, who have been appointed by the tribunal as amicus curiae in a case related to ban on fire crackers, had told a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice A K Goel that particulate air pollution contributed 15 per cent to COVID-19 mortality worldwide.
“The latest research on exposure to air pollution and risk of death from COVID-19 infection suggests that ‘air pollution is an important cofactor increasing the risk of mortality from COVID-19’,” they said.
“The study also states that this finding should provide ‘extra motivation for combining ambitious policies to reduce air pollution with measures to control the transmission of COVID- 19’. The study estimates that particulate air pollution contributed 15 per cent to COVID-19 mortality worldwide,” they added.
The NGT reserved the order and said it will be uploaded on its website by November 9.
The NGT had on November 2 issued notice to Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and four states on whether use of fire crackers be banned from November 7 to 30 in the interest of public health and environment.
The tribunal was hearing a plea by Indian Social Responsibility Network, filed through Santosh Gupta, seeking action against pollution by use of fire crackers in NCR during the time air quality is unsatisfactory with potential of severity of COVID-19 pandemic.