Guwahati: The Pollution Control Board, Assam (PCBA) has ordered a complete ban on the sale and bursting of firecrackers in Guwahati till the end of this month, including on Diwali, to curb pollution amid the COVID- 19 pandemic.
The decision has been taken in view of high pollution in the city with the air quality being in the “poor” category, the board said in an order on Tuesday.
“There will be a total ban against sale or use of all kinds of firecrackers in the Guwahati city from midnight of November 9-10, 2020 to the midnight of November 30-December 1, 2020, to be reviewed thereafter,” the order said.
In areas other than Guwahati, only green crackers have been allowed for two hours on Diwali — from 8 pm to 10 pm.
On Chhath, firecrackers can be burst from 6 am to 8 am, and 11.55 pm to 12.30 am on Christmas and New Year’s eve, the order said.
“The District Magistrates and Commissioners/ Superintendents of Police shall implement the aforesaid directions. Daily Action Taken Reports to be submitted to the Pollution Control Board, Assam,” it added.
However, state Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the government has no plan to impose restrictions on the bursting of crackers during Diwali as Hindus have the right to celebrate festivals.
“Like any other religion, Hindus have the right to celebrate festivals. With the improvement in #COVID19 situation in Assam, we plan no restrictions on the celebration of #Diwali including use of #Firecrackers,” the minister had tweeted on Tuesday.
He, however, urged people to exercise self-restraint as this was the key to combat COVID-19.
Police have also banned firecrackers in some parts of the city.
According to an order issued by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the cities and towns where air quality is ‘moderate’ or below, only green crackers can be sold and the timings for use and bursting of crackers should be restricted to two hours during festivals such as Diwali, Chhath, Guru Parab, Christmas and New Year’s eve.