Delhi bans firecrackers ahead of Diwali as COVID-19 cases rise, pollution worsens
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal also appealed to people to join him and his ministers in a 'Laxmi Pujan' programme to be organised by the AAP government this Diwali instead of bursting crackers
New Delhi: Ahead of Diwali, the Delhi government on Thursday decided to ban firecrackers in the National Capital till 30 November and ramp up medical infrastructure in hospitals, with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal holding the festive season and pollution responsible for the rising COVID-19 cases in the city.
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 7 to 30 November," the government said in a statement.
In a tweet, Kejriwal 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."
Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta criticised the move saying it was a "temporary" step necessitated by the "failure" of the Kejriwal government to work on promises like strengthening public transport, buying electric buses, and solving the problem of dust on roads.
The president of Delhi Congress Anil Chaudhary welcomed the ban, but said it was a delayed step that will hurt small traders and demanded financial help to compensate for their losses.
The chief minister earlier in the day 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.
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