A day after announcing a blanket ban on firecrackers during Diwali, the Delhi government on Friday warned that a hefty fine could be imposed on those violating the ban. The Arvind Kejriwal-led government on November 5, imposed the ban from November 7-30 amid the spike in the number of new COVID-19 cases and worsening pollution levels.
On Friday, Environment Minister Gopal Rai said that a meeting will take place on November 9 (Monday) to discuss an action plan to ensure implementation of the ban. The minister also said that those violating the ban can be fined up to Rs 1 lakh by the administration.
“We have called a meeting on Monday to discuss an action plan to ensure implementation of the ban on firecrackers,” he said. On traders facing economic loss due to the ban, he said the government’s priority was to save lives first.
The ban will also cover green crackers, said a government official. “In the wake of the rising pollution and coronavirus cases in Delhi due to the festival season, the Delhi government has decided to put a complete ban on the sale, purchase, and use of firecrackers in the city from November 7 to November 30,” the government said in a statement.
In a tweet, Kejriwal had said, “Reviewed corona situation in Delhi and preparedness with Chief Secy, Health officials and all DMs. Corona cases have increased due to festival season and pollution. It was decided to– 1. Ban crackers in Delhi, 2. Ramp up medical infra, Oxygen and ICU beds are being increased in Delhi govt hospitals”.
The chief minister earlier said the COVID-19 situation was deteriorating in Delhi due to the rising air pollution and appealed to people not to burst firecrackers, and join him and his ministers instead in a ‘Laxmi Pujan’ programme to be organised by the AAP government this Diwali.
COVID-19 cases have increased in Delhi due to the ongoing festival season and pollution, the chief minister said after the review meeting with the chief secretary, health department officials and district magistrates (DMs). Delhi has recorded a spike in COVID-19 cases in the past few days with the number of daily infections crossing the 6,000-mark for the second consecutive day on Wednesday.
According to a senior Delhi Police officer, 138 licences for firecracker shops were issued this year. A total of 260 applications for firecracker shop licences were received. Out of them, 138 licences were issued to those who met all the requirements as prescribed by the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation, said Joint Commissioner of Police (Licensing Unit), Suvashis Choudhary.
On Friday, the Delhi Police said that it has arrested two persons in separate incidents and seized over 400 kg of firecrackers being sold without a licence in West and Outer-North districts. Both the seizures were made on Thursday, they said.
In the first incident, a 47-year-old shopkeeper was arrested from west Delhi’s Raghubir Nagar area for allegedly selling firecrackers without a licence, police said. The accused, Sanjay Kumar, is a resident of Raghubir Nagar in Khayala, they said. On Thursday, police were informed that Kumar had a huge stock of illegal crackers for sale at his shop in Raghubir Nagar, a senior police officer said.
“A raid was conducted and Kumar was apprehended from his shop. A total of 414.6 kilograms of different varieties of illegal crackers have been recovered,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (West) Deepak Purohit said. He was also found previously involved in four cases, two of whom were registered under the Explosives Act, police said.
In another case, a police team patrolling Nehru Enclave area found a man selling illegal firecrackers on the footpath. They apprehended the seller, identified as Vishnu Datt (60), a resident of Nawal Park in Alipur, police said, adding that 9.2 kilograms of different varieties of illegal firecrackers were recovered from his possession.