West Bengal allows green crackers on Kali Puja and Chhath; PIL seeks blanket ban
The West Bengal government on Wednesday allowed bursting of green crackers for around two hours during Kali Puja and Chhath Puja and for about 35 minutes on Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
This comes at a time when the Centre has warned the state of rising Covid-19 cases in Kolkata after Durga Puja festivities.
Recently a section of Kolkata’s leading doctors, environmental experts and medical associations jointly submitted a letter to chief minister Mamata Banerjee requesting a blanket ban on firecrackers. A PIL has also been filed in the Calcutta High Court seeking a complete ban on firecrackers. The matter will be heard on Friday.
The order issued by the West Bengal Pollution Control Board says that there has been a complete ban on the sale and bursting of firecrackers, except green crackers in the state. During Kali Puja bursting of green crackers has been allowed from 8 pm to 10 pm, and on Chhath Puja it has been allowed from 6 am to 8 am. During Christmas and New Year green crackers have been allowed from 11:55 pm to 12:30 am. Diwali will be celebrated across the country on November 4 this year.
In 2020, the Calcutta High Court had banned the use and sale of firecrackers on Kali Puja to curb pollution amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The state government too had appealed to the people to avoid bursting firecrackers during Kali Puja and Diwali in order to check air pollution.
“Much damage has been caused by the rampant violations of Covid-19 safety protocols during Durga Puja. Cases have started rising once again in the city and across the state. We should at least show some restraint during Kali Puja by not bursting crackers and fireworks this time. The smoke and pollution would cause more harm to patients who are suffering from Covid-19 or are recovering from the disease,” said Manas Gumta, general secretary of the Association of Health Service Doctors in the state.
The Durga Puja, the biggest festival in the state, ended on October 15 and the daily count of Covid-19 cases is once again hovering around the 1000-mark after a gap of more than three months. Nearly 974 new Covid-19 cases were detected in the state on Saturday, and on Sunday the number shot up further to 989. On Monday and Tuesday, it remained a little above the 800-mark.
The Kolkata Police have started intensifying action against citizens for violating Covid-19 safety protocols as the daily count of cases has shot up in the city after the festivities.
With the daily count of Covid-19 cases shooting up in West Bengal after the festive season, the state administration has started re-introducing containment zones to check the spread of the virus. Containment zones have already come up in Howrah, North 24 Parganas - the district with the highest number of daily cases after Kolkata, Jalpaiguri and Hooghly. In Kolkata, however, no such zones have been declared.