KOLKATA: The state pollution control board had informed cops that the National Green Tribunal’s December 1 firecracker ban order till the pandemic is over will be effective in Kolkata, Howrah, Barrackpore, Haldia, Durgapur, Asansol and Raniganj. This order, the WBPCB says, will cover the year-end festivities in these places. Cops had sought the state Pollution Control Board’s advice whether the NGT firecrackers ban order will be applicable during the New Year celebrations.
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The pollution control board and the leading environment activists say the NGT order is very clear about the upcoming festive season. “The NGT order on December 1 clearly said that the fireworks ban will be effective till the end of the current pandemic. Thus, the ban on all fireworks will be effective this Christmas, year-end and New Year celebrations. We will be complying with the NGT order. The standard operating procedure (SOP) that we followed during Diwali will again be followed during the year-end and the New Year celebrations. We got tremendous support from the citizens restraining themselves from indulging in fireworks. We seek similar support from the citizens during the Christmas, year end and New Year celebrations. We will closely coordinate with the enforcement agencies so that no violation happens,” said WBPCB chairman, Kalyan Rudra.
While the primary reason is to firm up the various legal implications amidst the pandemic, cops also want to raise awareness on the matter at least two weeks in advance — a policy that paid rich dividends during Diwali.
“We have never planned such a campaign in the winter before,” said a police officer. While cops will be waiting for a detailed administrative directive on the physical distancing and other Covid protocols to host year-end parties, the joint initiative will help generate strong public opinion. “We will start meeting the club management, restaurant owners and other party organizers. We are likely to receive queries on this aspect. Additionally, we have to meet the firecracker traders once again. Deployment issues on the night of December 31 is another key area,” said a police officer.
Environment activists said their vigil will remain the same like Diwali. “The way a mute and pollution-free Diwali was celebrated this year in Kolkata should be replicated in the city. There should not be any deviation,” said the environment activist, Subhas Datta. “We will keep tabs on the developments. We will generate alerts if any violation takes place. Cops did a commendable job during Diwali. We hope that the police will do everything to make people comply with the order,” said Naba Dutta, secretary of the Sabuj Mancha.