As Delhi approaches another 'breath-taking' winter soon, Environment Minister Gopal Rai has said that manufacturing, storing, selling firecrackers in Delhi will be punishable with fine up to Rs 5,000 and three years imprisonment under Section 9B of the Explosives Act..
Bursting of firecrackers on Diwali in Delhi will attract jail term up to six months and a fine of Rs 200, Rai said on Wednesday.
He added that a total of 408 teams have been set up to implement ban on firecrackers in Delhi on Diwali.
In September, the city government re-imposed a complete ban on the production, sale and use of all types of firecrackers till January 1, including on Diwali, a practice it has been following for the last two years.
Rai said a public awareness campaign, "Diye Jalao Patakhe Nahi", will be launched on October 21. The Delhi government will light 51,000 diyas at Central Park in Connaught Place on Friday.
Every year in the months of October-December, the national capital chokes under blankets of smog. Festival season including Dusshera and Diwali contributes to an uptick in pollution levels due to the burning of effigies and firecrackers.
The season coincides with the time of stubble burning in neighboring states of Punjab and Haryana, which further exacerbates the problem. The landlocked geography of Delhi and stable weather conditions with anti-cyclonic wind circulation keeps the polluted air trapped in Delhi, shooting the Air Quality Index upwards.
For instance, the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) on October 7 ordered the implementation of Stage 1 of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) after Delhi's 24-hour average Air Quality Index (AQI) stood at 211 (poor category) at 4 pm on Dussehra. The Centre's sub-committee on GRAP noted in a meeting that there has been a “sudden dip” in air quality parameters in the region which has pushed Delhi's AQI into the 'poor' category.
Taking cognizance of high levels of pollution in Delhi, the Supreme Court in 2018 ordered the implementation of the GRAP as an ad-hoc measure to address the situation of the city turning into a 'gas chamber.'
Against this backdrop, Environment Minister Rai has introduced strict penalties for bursting of firecrackers this Diwali season. The minister revealed that 188 cases of violations have been detected and 2,917 kg firecrackers seized till October 16.
(With inputs from PTI)