People who let off firecrackers in Delhi during Diwali will face up to six months in jail, the city’s environment minister has announced amid worsening pollution levels in the Indian capital.
Bursting of firecrackers on Diwali in Delhi will attract a jail term of up to six months and a fine of Rs 200, Environment Minister Gopal Rai said on Wednesday.
Production, storage and sale of firecrackers in the capital will be punishable with a fine of up to Rs 5,000 and three years in jail under Section 9B of the Explosives Act, the minister told a press conference here.
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 (light diyas, not firecrackers) – will be launched on October 21.
The Delhi government will light 51,000 diyas at Central Park in Connaught Place on Friday.
“The purchase and bursting of firecrackers in Delhi will be punishable with a fine of Rs 200 and six months in jail under the Indian Penal Code,” the minister said.
Rai said 408 teams have been set up to implement the ban.
The Delhi Police has set up 210 teams under assistant commissioners of police, while the Revenue Department has constituted 165 teams and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee 33.
The minister said 188 cases of violations have been detected and 2,917 kg firecrackers seized till October 16.
The air quality in Delhi and neighbouring areas start worsening in October due to unfavourable meteorological factors such as low temperatures and wind speed, which do not allow the dispersion of pollutants.
A cocktail of emissions from firecrackers and stubble burning in neighbouring states further dent the air quality.”Pollution levels rise around Diwali every year. The major reason is the bursting of firecrackers. Emissions from firecrackers are extremely dangerous, especially for kids, women and the elderly.
“Therefore, the Delhi government has imposed a complete ban on the production, sale and use of all types of firecrackers this year too. The ban covers online delivery of firecrackers,” the minister said.
Rai urged Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav to ensure the ban on firecrackers is strictly implemented in the entire NCR “as the smoke from firecrackers burst in the region impacts the people in Delhi also”.
Besides Delhi, Haryana had also imposed a ban on the sale and use of all kinds of firecrackers in 14 of its districts in the National Capital Region last year, while Uttar Pradesh had allowed the use of green crackers on Diwali just for two hours in areas with moderate or better air quality.
Despite the restrictions, people burst firecrackers till late at night in Delhi, Noida, Faridabad and Gurugram.
Fireworks had led to major changes in PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations in Delhi on Diwali night (November 4), according to the DPCC.
Emissions from firecrackers and farm fires had pushed the capital’s 24-hour average air quality index for the day after Diwali to 462, the highest in five years.