Cracker ban SOP issued in Delhi: Fine up to ₹1 lakh or a month in prison for violators
The Delhi government on Monday released guidelines for enforcement agencies to implement the blanket ban on all kinds of firecrackers this Diwali.
The guideline document directs the agencies to spread enforcement teams across Delhi, penalise violators and prepare a daily reporting system with focus on those who were granted licences for the sale of green crackers before the ban was imposed – with an objective to identify discrepancies and illegal sales, if any.
The guidelines were issued by environment minister Gopal Rai, who on Monday convened a meeting with officials of the environment department, revenue department and police. These agencies, along with the municipal corporations, will be involved in the enforcement of the ban in different roles, government officials said.
Rai said after the meeting, “If anyone violates the ban on firecracker bursting, they will be penalised under the Air Act. I urge every resident of Delhi to follow the ban on firecrackers… Earlier the Delhi government had allowed green crackers but looking at the increasing number of Covid-19 cases and the pollution levels, the Delhi government decided to ban all kinds of firecrackers.”
Green crackers are said to contain fewer polluting substances as compared to traditional ones. Last year, under the Supreme Court’s directions, the Delhi government had allowed the sale of only green crackers and set a window of 8 pm to 10 pm for burning them during Diwali.
This year’s ban on the sale, purchase, transport and burning of all kinds of firecrackers, will be in effect till November 30 midnight. Violation can lead to a penalty of up to Rs 1 lakh or a jail term that can extend up to 1 month.
The guideline document, which HT has seen, said: “The city of Delhi is reeling under a third peak of outbreak of Covid-19 and large-scale celebrations by bursting of firecrackers will result not only in agglomeration of people, in violation of social distancing norms, but also would result in high level of air pollution, leading to serious health issues in Delhi… It is a matter of fact that burning of firecrackers would cause extensive air pollution and releases metal particles, dangerous toxins, harmful chemicals and noxious gases which would form one of the main sources of air pollution particularly when AQI is already reeling under ‘severe’ category.”
On Monday, the air quality in Delhi remained in the “severe” category for the fifth consecutive day, with an AQI of 477 on a scale of 500.
Rai mentioned the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) total ban on the sale and use of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR from the midnight of November 9 to November 30 midnight. The NGT order said the ban will be applicable in cities and towns where the air quality is in the “poor” category.
Under the standard operating procedure (SOP) in the guideline document, the Delhi revenue department and police have been directed to send patrol teams across Delhi to enforce the ban, involve resident welfare associations (RWA) and non-government organisations (NGO) and use police vans for announcements against burning of firecrackers in all localities. “Delhi Police (directed) to lodge FIR against violators,” said the document.
The joint commissioner of Delhi Police’s licensing department has been directed to check on the inventory of traders who were granted licences to sell green firecrackers before the ban was imposed, to ensure no illegal stocking, possession and sale take place.
“We have already been enforcing the complete ban on sale and use of firecrackers in Delhi. So far, we have recovered more than 792 kilograms of crackers and arrested 12 persons in as many cases. Apart from that eight cases have been registered for illegal bursting of firecrackers and one person has been arrested till Monday,” Delhi Police spokesperson Eish Singhal said on Monday.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress have criticised the Delhi government for the last-minute ban, saying it would affect traders who were given licences.
The BJP’s Delhi unit chief Adesh Gupta said the traders should be compensated by the government.
Delhi Congress chief Anil Kumar also said, “The Delhi government should provide compensation to traders who suffered heavy losses due to the ban on crackers at the last moment.”