Delhi govt to launch awareness campaign on green crackers, ensure their availability in market: Gopal Rai | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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Delhi govt to launch awareness campaign on green crackers, ensure their availability in market: Gopal Rai

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By
Oct 21, 2020 06:36 AM IST

The strict regulations were put in place in view of the extremely high levels of air pollution during winters, which peak critically during Diwali.

The Delhi government has planned a massive awareness campaign to promote ‘green crackers’ (low-emission varieties) ahead of Diwali and also ensure that enough stock is available in the market to prevent sales of illegal, polluting varieties, Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai said on Tuesday.

Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai(HT photo)
Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai(HT photo)

“We have had a few meetings with the agencies concerned to chalk out a plan to make green crackers readily available in the markets this time. We have also met wholesale cracker dealers over the last week. Our aim this year will be to improve awareness about the impact of cracker burning on air so that the spike in pollution levels around Diwali can be reduced,” said Rai.

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In 2017, the Supreme Court had banned the sale and use of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR ahead of Diwali. However, in 2018, the apex court conditionally allowed sale of fireworks that meet the standards of low emission and noise levels. It had also limited the bursting of firecrackers from 8pm to 10pm for Diwali and between 11:55pm and 12:30am on other occasions such as Christmas and New Year.

The strict regulations were put in place in view of the extremely high levels of air pollution during winters, which peak critically during Diwali.

In the last two years, despite the ban on the sale of crackers, the low availability of low-emission cracker varieties—till last year only ‘phuljhari’ (sparkles), rocket and ‘anar’(flower pots) were available in the markets—and the limited quantity of crackers, led to citizens using regular crackers after buying it from other sides. This led to a major spike in the pollution level post-Diwali.

Last year, a day after Diwali, on October 28, the city’s ‘air quality’ plummeted to ‘severe’ category for the first time in the season.

Rai said the government would launch a large-scale awareness campaign across the national capital to encourage people to use green crackers this time instead of buying the illegal polluting varieties that are sold illegally or brought from other states.

Narendra Gupta, president, fireworks and general traders association, Sadar Bazar, who has been attending the government meetings as a representative of the traders, said they have assured the agencies that only the permitted varieties of crackers will be sold in the wholesale markets.

“We were asked to keep a check on the illegal varieties of crackers in our respective markets and we have assured them that only green, low-emission crackers will be sold in our markets. However, in Sadar Bazar and in areas near Jama Masjid, a lot of temporary stalls are set up right before Diwali that sell Chinese varieties, which are polluting. The enforcement agencies will have to keep a tab on them,” Gupta said.

Cracker sellers also said that unlike the previous years, where there was were only three varieties available in the market, this time the industry is more prepared. This year at least 60 varieties of crackers will be available in the market, they said.

“The cracker industry is still recovering from the losses incurred in the last three years. This year, of 90 traders only 10 are expected to apply for licences. This is because for the last three years, the cracker business faced major losses and many small traders have not been able to revive their businesses,” Gupta said.

Rai said that with the limitations on account of Covid-19, the focus of the government this time in tackling pollution in Delhi would be based on raising awareness to ensure more public participation in measures to curb pollution.

“Pollution does not have a readymade solution. There are limitations this time but that does not mean we sit idle. We will put in all our efforts this time,” Rai said.

Referring to the Delhi government’s “Red Light On, Gaadi Off” campaign, Rai said, “We think the pollution in Delhi affects all of us and all of us need to take the responsibility of resolving this issue. If we need a permanent solution, then the sources of the pollution will have to be controlled.I request people to turn off the engines of their vehicles if they spend more than 15 seconds at a traffic signal. It will save fuel and reduce pollution.”

The campaign will be launched at 100 traffic intersections from today.

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