Firecrackers ban ahead of festival season

Context- National Green Tribunal bans firecrackers in place where air quality is poor.

What are the guidelines of National Green Tribunal for firecrackers?

  • The National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed that there would be a total ban on sale or use of all kinds of firecrackers between November 10 and 30 in places where air quality is ‘poor’ and above category.
  • About Green crackers– NGT also directed that in places where the ambient air quality fell under the ‘moderate’ or below category, only green crackers would be permitted to be sold and timings restricted to two hours for bursting.
  • The panel specified that data from November 2019 would be calculated to ascertain the average ambient air quality for both the instances.
  • The Tribunal in its order noted that Odisha, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Delhi and Chandigarh among others had prohibited the sale and use of firecrackers to protect vulnerable groups.

What is the impact of air pollution on COVID-19?

  1. COVID-19 –The potential modes of transmission of COVID-19 is through ambient air by droplets which carry the viruses. Changes in the environment will affect the transmission of the infection. Air pollution is one of the elements that can change the environment. So air pollution can indirectly influence the transmission.
  • 40% of all pollution-linked deaths attributed to bad air quality in leading emerging economies and some evidence from the U.S. on higher COVID-19 mortality in highly polluted areas.

What are the concerns of the fireworks industry?

  • The ban on firecrackers by some state governments has come as a double blow for the fireworks industry in Tamil Nadu, which cater to 90 per cent of the demand in the country, as they have already been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Disbursement of salaries to employees and uncertainty whether the units would receive payment for stocks already sent to states like Rajasthan and Haryana before the ban was announced.

Way forward-

  • A compensation scheme for workers and suitable relief for firecracker producers may be necessary.
  • Longer-term solution might lie in broad basing economic activity by reducing reliance on firecrackers.
  • All State pollution control boards and committees must take special initiative to contain air pollution by regulating all other sources of pollution.
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