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Police, anti-pollution body to enforce Delhi’s cracker ban

In a series of tweets on Wednesday, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal announced his government’s decision to implement a complete ban on crackers in Delhi, to control the rising pollution levels that are seen around Diwali every year
A view of shops selling firecrackers that are shut, in the wake of a complete ban on the selling of firecrackers imposed by the Delhi government. (Sanchit Khanna/HT Photo)
Updated on Sep 17, 2021 05:20 AM IST
By Soumya Pillai and Karn Pratap Singh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Delhi Police and teams of the Delhi Pollution Control Board (DPCC) will closely monitor markets to ensure strict compliance of the Delhi government’s ban on the sale of crackers this season, senior officials said on Thursday.

Police said 46 traders applied for temporary licence to sell crackers till September 16, which was the last date for the application. However, after the Delhi government announced a complete ban on the sale, storage and use of crackers, including the less polluting ‘green’ variants, on Wednesday, these applications stand cancelled, officials said.

Police records show that till September 16, the northwest district received five applications, southwest got four, and southeast district got six applications for cracker licences.

North district, which includes Sadar Bazar—one of the largest wholesale cracker markets in the city—received 17 applications, and the east district received 12 such requests. Two applications were received by the outer district, senior officials confirmed.

In a series of tweets on Wednesday, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal announced his government’s decision to implement a complete ban on crackers in Delhi, to control the rising pollution levels that are seen around Diwali every year. Kejriwal said that the decision was taken to save the lives of Delhi residents and the early announcement was made to prevent traders from incurring losses. This is the fourth consecutive year when Delhi is imposing a blanket ban on the sale and use of crackers in the city.

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Despite a ban on crackers last year as well, Delhi’s pollution levels remained high on Diwali day (November 14) and continued to remain in the poor zone in the subsequent week. In a special report to assess the rise in pollution on Diwali, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) said almost all pollutants reported higher values on Diwali in 2020 as compared to 2019.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) for PM 2.5 (particulate matter with diameter less than 2.5 micrometres) stood at 481 in Anand Vihar, 444 in IGI airport area, 457 at ITO, and 414 in Lodhi Road area -- all in the ‘severe’ category, according to the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) data.

The police said they will keep a close watch on traders so that no illegal sale of crackers happens in the national capital. Violators will be booked under section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which pertains to “disobedience to order duly promulgated by a public servant”.

“We will also be organising meetings and awareness programmes with resident welfare associations and market to make sure crackers are not burst in Delhi. We are also sensitising our beat staff to be on their toes to check any illegal storage and sale,” said Usha Rangnani, deputy commissioner of police (northwest).

DPCC officials also said that their teams will also be vigilant to check any violation of the ban.

“The only part that we are concerned about is that because of porous borders in Delhi, people often get crackers from neighbouring states where there is no such ban. Our main challenge will be to coordinate with the police to ensure that the ban is followed,” a senior DPCC official said.

The traders, however, are not happy with another year of no sales.

“The government has completely finished cracker business in Delhi. They are talking as if one day’s cracker bursting is the only thing that is responsible for Delhi’s pollution problem. What about vehicular emissions and dust pollution that you see every day? Why is the government not acting on that first?” said Narendra Gupta, fireworks and general traders association, Sadar Bazar.

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