New Delhi [India], November 2 (ANI): The National Green Tribunal on Monday issued notice to the Environment Ministry, Delhi government, pollution control agencies, and neighboring states seeking their stand on whether the use of firecrackers should be temporarily banned from November 7 to November 30 in the interest of public health and environment.
A bench of the NGT, headed by its chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel issued notice to the Environment Ministry, Delhi government, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Delhi Pollution Control Committee, Delhi government, Delhi Police, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan, asking them to file their replies and listed the matter for November 5.
The tribunal noted that there are expert views on the clear nexus of air pollution with COVID-19 and with increased air pollution, the virus can cause more damage. It also requested senior advocate Raj Panjwani and lawyer Shibhani Ghosh to assist the tribunal as amicus in the matter.
The NGT was hearing an application, filed by the Indian Social Responsibility Network through Santosh Gupta, raising the issue of air pollution by the use of firecrackers in NCR at a time when air quality is at a 'very poor' level and the potential of worsening the COVID-19 pandemic.
The application referred to the statement of the Union Health Minister and the Health Minister of Delhi that during the festive season there will be a rise of COVID-19 cases due to air pollution.
"Increased pollution may further affect vulnerable groups and increase the fatality rate. Covid cases in Delhi may go up to 15,000 per day, as against the current cases of about 5,000 per day. The use of green crackers will not remedy the situation. The smoke will choke and may create a gas chamber like situation. It will lead to poor visibility, hazy conditions, and asphyxia," the applicant said.
The NGT noted that the COVID-19 situation may cause various adverse effects assuming that it may increase the number of deaths of children, senior citizens, and other vulnerable persons.
"Number of diseases may also increase. There are reports in the public domain that air quality of Delhi is deteriorating and further deterioration may give rise to an increase in Covid cases," the NGT said in its order.
"It is well known that the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) has been introduced envisaging the prohibiting of polluting activities if the air quality deteriorates. The Air Quality Index (AQI) is reported to be averaging between 410 and 450 i.e. 'hazardous' category," it added.
The tribunal observed that firecrackers emit poisonous gases like SO2, NOX, CO and added that in the given climatic conditions, this may result in respiratory/pulmonary diseases, diabetes, hypertension, and other diseases. (ANI)