2-hr cracker limit goes up in smoke

New Delhi, November 8

A day after Diwali, many parts of the country were shrouded in haze on Thursday as pollution levels spiked to dangerous levels with several people celebrating the Festival of Lights with sound and lots of smoke in defiance of the Supreme Court’s two-hour limit for bursting firecrackers.

There was anguish and searching questions on the yawning gap between the law and its enforcement as the sun struggled to shine through murky skies, particularly in the Delhi-NCR region, which recorded its worst air quality of the year.

Pollution levels in the national capital and its surrounding areas entered the “severe-plus emergency” category owing to a toxic mix of firecrackers, local weather conditions and farm fires in neighbouring states.

The Supreme Court had permitted the sale and manufacture of low-emission “green” firecrackers countrywide and fixed a two-hour period for bursting them. In gross violation of the order, however, people burst firecrackers past midnight. Violations were also recorded in Mumbai, Kolkata, Jaipur, Chandigarh and various Punjab cities.

In New Delhi, the air quality index (AQI) literally went off the charts at 642, several times over the permissible limit, according to data by the Centre-run SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research).  In 2017, the AQI post Diwali was recorded at 367. 

While some people spoke of maintaining Diwali traditions, others bemoaned the callousness and ignorance of those who continued to burst crackers despite the Supreme Court’s directives. — PTI


FIRs, ARRESTS APLENTY

  • In Delhi, 579 cases were registered and more than 300 persons arrested on Diwali night for violating the apex court order. Delhi Police also seized 2,776 kg of firecrackers and arrested 87 persons for the illegal sale 
  • Cases were registered under Section 188 of the IPC (disobedience of order). Those arrested were later granted bail
  • In Tamil Nadu, 2,190 cases were filed for bursting firecrackers outside the two-hour time slot, though no arrests were made since the offence was bailable in nature, a police official said

Punjab ‘less polluted’ 

  • Krunesh Garg, member-secretary of the Punjab Pollution Control Board, said the Air Quality Index was recorded at 234 in the state, whereas it was 328 last Diwali
  • Ban was flouted with impunity in Amritsar and Ludhiana, but just over 10 FIRs were filed. Barnala recorded seven cases, while the Patiala police registered five FIRs