New Delhi, December 2: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday directed a complete ban on the sale and use of firecrackers during the COVID-19 pandemic in the National Capital Region (NCR) and all cities and towns where the ambient air quality is in the poor or above categories.

A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel also directed that only green crackers will be permitted for Christmas and New Year – between 11:55 pm and 12:30 am – in areas where the ambient air quality is in the moderate or below categories, The Hindu reported.

All district magistrates have been directed to ensure that firecrackers are not sold and that compensation from violators are recovered.

“The district magistrate, on a complaint or otherwise, will recover compensation from violators…Any victim of pollution, apart from other remedies, can approach the district magistrate for compensation, by showing evidence of individual damage and the person responsible for the damage such claim may be dealt with by a reasoned order,” the Tribunal said.

The green panel also specified that with a view to ensure availability of air quality data, at least one air quality monitoring station is required to be set up at every district headquarter.

“Where no such monitoring station exists, at least a manual monitoring station which is very easy to set up and not costly must be installed at the earliest…this should not exceed three months in any case,” the Bench said.

Noting that the opposition to arguments made against the use of firecrackers were by firecracker manufacturers, the bench observed, “Right to business is not absolute. There is no right to violate air quality and noise level norms. This being crime under the law of the land cannot be a right. Nobody has the right to carry on business at the cost of health of others. All licenses already given or which may be given are inherently subject to overriding requirement of preventing damage to the environment and the public health.”

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