Burst crackers in Chandigarh and land in jail for up to 2 years
This Diwali abstain from bursting crackers or be ready to face up to two-year imprisonment as the Chandigarh administration has decided to invoke the Disaster Management Act 2005 against violators.
To keep a check on second wave of Covid-19 pandemic due to possible health complications arising from pollution, the administration last week imposed a blanket ban on the sale and bursting of firecrackers in the city.
“There is no relaxation. So clear instructions have been passed to station house officers to ensure strict compliance. Anyone caught selling or bursting crackers will be booked under Section 188 (for non-compliance of prohibitory order) of the Indian Penal Code and action will also be taken under relevant section of the Disaster Management Act,” said Kuldeep Singh Chahal, senior superintendent of police, Chandigarh.
Though the offence is bailable, provisions under the Disaster Management Act are stricter as compared to Section 188 of the IPC, which carries maximum jail of only three months.
Section 51 of the Act provides for a jail term of two years in case anyone gets hurt and one year for mere violation.
Chandigarh Police on last Diwali had registered 13 FIRs under Section 188 of the IPC against those bursting crackers beyond the permissible time limit of 8pm to 10pm.
With NGT order’s backing, admn not ready to budge
Even though cracker dealers are hoping to get a two-hour window for bursting crackers from the Punjab and Haryana high court on the lines of Panchkula, the Chandigarh administration is in no mood to roll back its decision.
The police control room and beat box staff are already making announcements in different markets and localities, urging residents not to sell or burst crackers. “We are creating awareness among people that any violation will invite criminal proceedings,” said Chahal, adding that on Diwali, special teams will be constituted to make rounds in their jurisdictions and ensure strict compliance.
The administration also got a shot in its arm with the National Green Tribunal’s order on Monday, which while enforcing a cracker ban in Delhi NCR issued similar directions to all cities in the country where the average ambient air quality last November had dropped in the “poor” category. Meanwhile, sale of only environment-friendly green crackers have been allowed in areas that had “moderate” air quality with two-hour window to burst them during festivals.
In recent weeks, the air quality index (AQI) has stayed moderate (100-200), after becoming poor (200-300) on November 4 when it was recorded at 203. In 2019, it was on the same date that the year’s peak AQI of 335 (very poor) was recorded in the city.
The meteorological department has warned that even this year, the AQI might go up in view of dry weather and unchecked stubble burning in the region.
High court to take up cracker dealers’ plea today
The high court will take up the plea of Chandigarh Cracker Dealers Association against the cracker ban on Wednesday.
The petition states that the pollution level (AQI) in Chandigarh is less than 150, while in adjacent Panchkula it is almost double, at 250. Despite this, the Haryana government has not imposed a blanket ban, and there is no such move in Mohali too, the petitioners have said.
The dealers have sought quashing of the UT administration’s decision, or as an alternative, directions to pay compensation in lieu of losses suffered by them.
The administration last week after conducting draw of lots for allotment of 96 licences for the sale of firecrackers in the city had decided to impose the ban. Earlier, citing health experts, who had advised against bursting of crackers, the administration had also issued an advisory for people to stay indoors and desist from bursting firecrackers in order to prevent air pollution and to protect the elderly and people with comorbidities.