A ban is only as good as its implementation. The National Green Tribunal’s ban on the sale or use of firecrackers in the National Capital Region till November 30, applicable practically to the entire country, remained a flop show on Diwali as there was little or no enforcement. Residents of Delhi and other parts of north India woke up to a smoggy morning on Sunday, with pollution levels crossing the ‘emergency’ threshold at most places. Expectations had been high from Delhi compared to other states as the former had announced a ban even before the tribunal endorsed it. However, the lax authorities in the Capital allowed things to slip out of control. Chandigarh, which had also imposed a blanket ban, was no exception as residents who bought crackers somehow burst them with impunity through the night and the next morning.
The performance of states such as Punjab, which had declared a two-hour window for the use of green crackers, also left a lot to be desired. If you give law-breakers an inch, they will take a mile. With the cops shutting their ears to all the noise, it was child’s play for revellers to keep bursting crackers — green or otherwise.
Both the governments as well as the public are responsible for the fiasco. All the anti-cracker awareness campaigns seem to have yielded little. Even the surge in Covid-19 cases amid worsening air pollution did not deter people from defying the ban. Despite the NGT’s scathing observation that ‘celebration by crackers is for happiness and not to celebrate deaths and diseases’, there was blatant disregard for the law as well as public health. Action against the violators should not be mere tokenism. Accountability of officials who didn’t bother to enforce the ban should also be fixed. The chalta hai attitude has to be stopped — if we want to breathe once the festivities are over.