Environmentalists, doctors and others welcomed the Calcutta High Court order banning all kinds of fireworks during Diwali, Kali Puja, Chhath, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and other upcoming festivals but expressed concern whether the directive can be implemented.
“We welcome the court’s decision to ban all kinds of firecrackers. That has been our demand. But we do not know how much the order will be implemented as a large number of illegal fireworks have already been sold in the garb of green crackers after the pollution control board’s order was issued,” said Naba Dutta, general secretary of the environment platform, Sabuj Mancha.
On October 26, the state pollution control board had allowed only green firecrackers to be burst in the state for two hours, from 8pm, on Diwali night. The board had said its order was based on a 2018 Supreme Court order and a few National Green Tribunal rulings.
“We plan to issue a fresh notice banning all kinds of fireworks, including green firecrackers, on the basis of the high court order. The fresh notice will be issued once we get a copy of the court’s order,” PCB chairman Kalyan Rudra said on Friday evening.
“The PCB should have waited for the high court directive or could have banned all fireworks on the ground that no agency has yet applied to produce green firecrackers in the state,” said Biswajit Mukherjee, a former chief law officer of the PCB.
“We are very happy. All physicians know how the noise of firecrackers disturb patients even in intensive care units during Diwali and Kali Puja,” said Hiralal Konar, a convener of Joint Forum of Doctors.
Alok Gopal Ghoshal, a pulmonologist and director of the National Allergy Asthma and Bronchitis Institute, pointed out how the enhanced air pollution level, especially particulates and toxic gases, increased after every Diwali, resulting in a drastic rise in the number of patients.
“Enhanced air pollution is extremely detrimental for Covid patients. The high court order is very significant, especially because the number of Covid cases has been increasing of late,” said Anirban Dalui, a physician.
Jayanta Narayan Chatterjee, a lawyer, urged police, PCB and the rest of the administration to strictly enforce the fireworks ban.
He also appealed to the public to refrain from bursting crackers.
“The administration and the people at large need to be active against fireworks. People need to accept that fireworks have to be phased out in these days of Covid and air pollution,” said Chatterjee.
“Based on our experience as well as complaints received in earlier years, we have identified a number of police station areas in the city and the rest of the state where the noise norm is rampantly violated. We have submitted the list to senior officials of the administration so that they can take appropriate steps in advance,” said Naba Datta.
The list includes Sonarpur, Behala, Sarsuna, Tollygunge, Ballygunge, Jadavpur, Gariahat, Bhowanipore, Kasba, Garia, Naktala, Phoolbagan, Maniktala and Jorasanko, among other places.
Firecracker producers said many people involved with the industry would suffer following the high court order.
“We welcome the division bench’s order but I must also say that thousands of common people who are associated with this industry will be severely affected,” said Subhankar Manna, general secretary of Tallah Baaji Bazar.