Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government on Tuesday banned the sale and use of firecrackers across the state during the festive season to check air pollution which can aggravate health conditions of COVID-19 patients.
The period of the ban is from November 10 to 30, according to a government order. The people of the state burst firecrackers on the occasion of Deepavali and Kartik Purnima, which fell on November 14 and 30 respectively this year.
Chief Secretary A K Tripathy issued a direction to prohibit sale and use of firecrackers in all parts of the state from November 10 to 30. “Any person found violating this order shall be punished under the provision of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and other relevant laws,” the order said.
“Considering the potentially harmful consequences of burning of crackers amidst COVID-l9 pandemic situation and approaching winter, Government of Odisha, therefore, prohibits the sale and use of fire crackers from 10th to 30th of November,2020 in public interest,” the chief secretary said.
Deepavali is the festival of lights and it may be celebrated in the traditional way by lighting of earthen lamps, candles and other traditional lighting materials. Stating that the spread of COVID-19 pandemic has been controlled in Odisha to a significant extent, the order said that the people at large supported the government in controlling the situation.
Though the number of active cases has shown a dip in the state, the danger is still very much present, Tripathy said adding that COVID-19 resurfaced in some parts of the country and in the world forcing them to re-impose lockdowns and other extreme measures to contain the situation and further spread of the disease.
Tripathy also pointed out that the international experience shows that the coming winter season may see further spread of the pandemic. It is generally observed that elderly people, children, persons with comorbidities and others develop respiratory problems during winter, he said.
This apart, the air pollution, higher concentration of Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) in the air aggravates the respiratory problems.
“It is a well-known fact that burning of the fire crackers releases copious amounts of harmful chemicals like nitrous oxide, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, which have severe impact on the respiratory health of vulnerable groups,” he said.
Such pollutants can further aggravate health conditions of COVID-19 positive persons besides persons staying in home isolation, he said. The chief secretary also issued an instruction to the local administrations and police to take measures for the implementation of the order.