Announcing this on Wednesday, Environment Minister Gopal Rai said those at the supplier end will face a ₹5,000 fine and imprisonment up to three years for storage, production and sale of crackers.
Last month, the government had imposed a ban on the production, sale and use of firecrackers, including green crackers, till January 1, 2023 to contain air pollution during winter. Mr. Rai said over 400 teams have been formed to ensure effective implementation of the cracker ban.
Meanwhile, the Commission for Air Quality Management on Wednesday directed authorities to enforce stage II of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), which includes a ban on diesel generators and use of coal and firewood in hotels, restaurants and open eateries, with immediate effect.
Parking fees for private vehicles in the NCR are also expected to go up. This is being done as Delhi’s air quality index (AQI) is projected to cross 301 (“very poor” category) on October 22, according to a forecast provided by the Air Quality Early Warning System, the CAQM said.
GRAP is a set of emergency measures taken to reduce air pollution. The measures include banning construction activities and entry of trucks into Delhi. The exceptions for ban on diesel generators include medical services, elevators, airports, railway stations among others. The 12 actions under Stage II will be implemented apart from Stage I, which was announced on October 5.
In another development, the Delhi government will light 51,000 lamps at Central Park in Connaught Place on Friday as part of “Diye Jalao, Patake Nahi”, a government awareness programme against firecrackers. The Delhi government had in September imposed a complete ban on the production, sale and use of all types of firecrackers — including green crackers — till January 1, 2023.
So far, 188 violators have been found in production and storage of crackers during surveillance by Delhi Police till October 16 and 2,917 kg of firecrackers have been confiscated.
BJP hits out
Meanwhile, Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta, in a letter written to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, accused him of remaining silent on the issue of stubble burning in Punjab ever since AAP formed a government in the State. He said that Mr. Kejriwal “repeatedly blamed Punjab for air pollution in Delhi” when his party was not in power, but now he is only busy with “political tourism”.
“[The] BJP brings to the notice of the Kejriwal government every year about this serious problem of the Delhiites but every time Mr. Kejriwal tries to escape from his responsibilities by taking the excuse of Punjab,” Mr. Gupta wrote. He asked the Delhi CM to “immediately ban stubble burning in Punjab” so that the people of Delhi can breathe clean air.