Bengal govt urged to reconsider appeal to people for avoiding firecrackers

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(Eds: Adds details) Kolkata, Nov 4 (PTI) With the West Bengal government appealing to people to refrain from using firecrackers during Kali Puja and Diwali festivities in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, a fireworks makers' association in the state on Wednesday urged the authorities to reconsider the move.

President of 'Poschim Bango Atosbazi Unnayan Samity' Babla Roy told reporters that the livelihood of around four lakh people in the state will be at stake if manufacture and sale of fireworks are stopped.

Roy urged the Chief Minister's Office to grant permission to burst fireworks from 8 pm to 10 pm on November 14 and 15, Kalipuja and Diwali.

He also demanded the government to give compensation of Rs 2 lakh to each licensed fireworks dealers, numbering over 53,000.

Roy said earlier in the day, 'the government could have taken a decision few months back and issued new guidelines then. Those approaching the judiciary now could have done the same earlier. That would have spared families, already hit hard by lockdown, from incurring huge losses at the last minute after manufacturing the fireworks,' he said.

If there is a complete ban on fireworks, it will raise the possibility of illegal firecrackers flooding the market and flouting the existing noise cap of 90 decibel on crackers, Roy said.

'Our members are manufacturing firecrackers falling within 80-85 decibel limits. Any ban will not prevent a section of people from bursting crackers,' Roy said.

Environmentalist Ajoy Kumar Dey on Tuesday filed a petition before the Calcutta High Court seeking a complete ban on the sale and burning of all kinds of fireworks during Kali Puja and Diwali this year in view of the pandemic.

The state government on Tuesday had appealed to people to avoid bursting firecrackers during Kali Puja and Diwali in order to check air pollution which is hazardous for COVID-19 patients.

'With everybody's cooperation, we want to hold the Kali Puja and Diwali festivals avoiding firecrackers. The administration appeals to people to avoid firecrackers,' Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay had said.

West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) sources said they are mulling over steps, in coordination with police, to enforce the government advisory, especially in suburbs and apartments. PTI SUS RG RG