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Blanket ban on firecrackers easier to enforce: Cops

Law-enforcement agencies will shift their focus on cracking down on the points of sale without having to waste time or energy to differentiate between legal and illegal crackers
Last year, bursting of firecrackers producing sound up to 90 decibel at 5m from the source were allowed within a two-hour window on Diwali. However, dozens of incidents of bursting of banned firecrackers were reported from across the city.
Last year, bursting of firecrackers producing sound up to 90 decibel at 5m from the source were allowed within a two-hour window on Diwali. However, dozens of incidents of bursting of banned firecrackers were reported from across the city.
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Monalisa Chaudhuri   |   Calcutta   |   Published 06.11.20, 02:40 AM

A blanket ban on firecrackers should be easier to implement than a selective ban that was in force on Diwali last year, police officers said hours after the high court ordered a complete ban till the end of November.

Law-enforcement agencies, following the order, will shift their focus on cracking down on the points of sale without having to waste time or energy to differentiate between legal and illegal firecrackers.

Last year, bursting of firecrackers producing sound up to 90 decibel at 5m from the source were allowed within a two-hour window on Diwali. However, dozens of incidents of bursting of banned firecrackers were reported from across the city.

In Calcutta and the outskirts, there were 15 cases where people were taken to police stations and prosecuted or fined for bursting banned firecrackers. Most of the complaints were from highrise buildings and housing complexes.

During the pre-Diwali period every year, Calcutta police conduct extensive searches and raids to seize banned firecrackers.

“In previous years, whenever we would catch someone carrying firecrackers, we would have to check whether those were legal or illegal…. This year is going to be different. Any firecracker we see on the road — be it a chocolate bomb with a fancy name or a simple sparkler — will be seized,” said a senior officer of Calcutta police.

The high court on Thursday directed the government to ensure that there was “no use or display or bursting of firecrackers at all during Kali Puja and Diwali celebrations. For this purpose, only wax or oil-based diyas would have to suffice, for the greater good of the citizens and in larger public interest.”

The court has also instructed the police to maintain strict vigil to ensure there is no sale or purchase of firecrackers in any form.

Keeping in mind the Covid pandemic, no baji bazar (firecracker market), where only legal firecrackers are sold, has been set up in Calcutta. In the run-up to Diwali in previous years, thousands of people would drive to manufacturing units in Champahati and Nungi, in South 24-Parganas, to buy firecrackers at a cheaper rate.

The police would usually try to maintain vigil on such sales by setting up checkpoints. “But we would be a little lenient if we saw families with children in a car. But this year there will be no exception,” an officer said.

Pollution control board officials, too, said the vigil would be stronger this year. Every year, the PCB and the police would have to depend on “spot evidence” such as empty boxes of firecrackers to prove that those were banned items. “This year, bursting of any firecracker will be illegal,” a senior officer said.

Environment activist Subhas Datta welcomed the court order and said it would have been better had the court defined the nature of punishment, too, for violation of the blanket ban.

Police sources said helpline numbers would be published where citizens could report any bursting of firecrackers.



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