The onset of winter and the current COVID-19 situation has pushed several Indian states to impose a partial or complete ban on firecrackers during Diwali 2020 celebrations.
Almost all through the month of November, sale and use of firecrackers will remain prohibited in many states, including the current pollution capital of India -- New Delhi.
Although Delhi’s call to regulate firecracker use during the onset of winters was expected, given the abysmal air quality in the Delhi National Capital Region (NCR), the reason why so many other states followed suit is the coronavirus pandemic.
One of the primary effects of COVID-19 on a patient’s health is respiratory distress, which can worsen if unbridled bursting of crackers is allowed during Diwali celebrations.
In Delhi, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Haryana, Karnataka, West Bengal, Odisha, Rajasthan, and Sikkim, the authorities have either imposed a blanket ban on crackers or allowed green crackers only.
What will happen if anyone flouts the ban imposed on selling and bursting firecrackers?
If a person is caught selling or bursting firecrackers this month, the offender will likely be booked under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) on charges of disobeying an order promulgated by a public servant. This could invite imprisonment of up to one month or a fine of up to Rs 200, or both.
However, if such disobedience puts a human life in danger, or affects the health and safety of a person, the offender will invite imprisonment of up to six months or be fined up to Rs 1,000, or both.
Read: States that have banned firecrackers and what the authorities announced
In West Bengal, if a person is caught bursting crackers during Diwali, the West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) may slap environmental compensations under the "polluter-pay" principle. WBPCB will reportedly be entitled to prosecute offenders under Section 15 of the Environment Protection Act (EPA), which could land offenders in a five-year jail term or make them pay a hefty fine of up to Rs 1 lakh.