260 applications for firecrackers licences received in Delhi, 138 get permission to sell
Pollution caused by firecrackers on Diwali night is a huge cause of concern in Delhi-NCR, with air quality plummeting to hazardous levels every year after the festival, which will be celebrated on November 14 this year.Updated: Oct 30, 2020, 05:52 IST
More than a fortnight ahead of Diwali, a total of 260 applications for firecracker shop licences have been received so far by Delhi Police, which issued 138 licences till Thursday -- a number much higher compared to 2019 when only 97 had applied of which 62 had received permission to sell firecrackers.
Eligible shopkeepers can start selling from Monday.
Suvashish Chaudhary, joint commissioner of Delhi Police’s licensing unit, said only those who met requirements prescribed by the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) were allotted licences. “All firecrackers sold in the market have to be green in nature and PESO-certified,” Chaudhary said.
“Eligible shopkeepers have been allowed to begin selling from Monday,” Chaudhary said. The process of issuing licences had commenced on October 23 and Wednesday was the last day. Many of those whose requests were rejected can file an appeal, which may be considered over the next few days.
The highest number of applications was received in the central police district this year. Thirty-three shopkeepers had applied, of whom 24 were granted licences.
Pollution caused by firecrackers on Diwali night is a huge cause of concern in Delhi-NCR, with air quality plummeting to hazardous levels every year after the festival, which will be celebrated on November 14 this year.
A day earlier on Wednesday, environment minister Gopal Rai announced an enforcement campaign to stop the use of traditional firecrackers and to ensure only green and less polluting varieties are available this time.
As part of the campaign to be launched on November 3, 11 squads of Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and police will inspect firecracker manufacturing units and shops to ensure polluting firecrackers are not sold.
According to Sanjay Bhatia, deputy commissioner of police (central), apart from selling PESO-certified firecrackers only, shopkeepers have to ensure social distancing and allow only customers with face masks.
“Then, there are other requirements such as having a six-metre road in front of their shops, having fire clearance and operating out of commercial areas,” said Bhatia.
Narendra Gupta, president of the Sadar Bazar Firecrackers Association, said the stock of green firecrackers this year is better than last year.
“Last year, we had only about four varieties of green firecrackers. This time we have about 40,” Gupta said, adding that while the influx of customers has been encouraging, shopkeepers are apprehensive as Covid-19 cases continue to rise in Delhi.
Teams of Delhi Police and PESO will carry out checks in markets and licensed shops to see if traditional polluting crackers were being sold. “Sellers will be booked under the Explosives Act and even arrested if they are not following norms,” Chaudhary said.
An official of PESO, who didn’t want to be identified, said licensing permission was entirely Delhi Police’s prerogative and his organisation can carry out checks at shops to ensure only green firecrackers were being sold.
In 2017, ahead of Diwali, the Supreme Court had put a temporary ban on the sale and purchase of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR. In the last two years, however, the court had ordered that only low-emission and improved fireworks could be sold in Delhi, owing to concerns over rising air pollution.
Residents were allowed to burst only green crackers between 8pm and 10pm.
These green crackers are said to have 30% lower emission as compared to traditional fireworks. The noise levels are lower -- 125 decibels against 160 decibels in traditional ones.
In 2018 and 2019, despite the ban on the sale of crackers and due to the low availability of low-emission varieties, pollution levels in the city saw a major spike after Diwali as people openly burst firecrackers.
Till last year, only ‘phuljhari’ (sparklers), rocket and ‘anar’(flower pots) were available.