Guwahati: Diwali might be just a few days away, but it seems the state administration cannot decide once and for all whether firecrackers can be used or not.
The Pollution Control Board, Assam (PCB) on Tuesday has issued a notification, banning sale and use of all kinds of firecrackers in Guwahati city from midnight of November 9-10 till the intervening night of November 30-December 1. But the state health minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma appears to have contrasting views.
Stating that Assam has no plans on restricting the use of firecrackers during Diwali, the minister tweeted, “Like any other religion, Hindus have the right to celebrate festivals. With improvement in #COVID19 situation in Assam, we plan no restrictions on celebration of #Diwali including use of #Firecrackers. However, kindly remember, self-restraint is key to combat #COVID19.”
This statement has confused the masses about the PCB order imposing a blanket ban in Guwahati city. Elsewhere in Assam, only green crackers can be sold and bursting is allowed only from 8-10 pm during Diwali, 6-8 am during Chatt Puja, and from 11.55 pm to 12.30 am during Christmas and on New Year’s eve.
Avinash Joshi, principal secretary to the government of Assam, environment and forests, told EastMojo that the PCB order is in line with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order.
The NGT directive issued on Monday states that there would be a total ban on the sale or use of all kinds of firecrackers between November 10-30 in all cities and towns across the country where the average ambient air quality is November fell in the ‘poor’ or above category.
Joshi added that if there is a serious issue, or if required, they will approach the NGT. But so far, the order stands.
Responding to Sarma’s statement, Assam MP and state Congress president Ripun Bora tweeted, “Despite the Crackers ban by Pollution Control Board, Assam, @himantabiswa says no restrictions on firecrackers. The whole country is fighting against #COVID19 and pollution.In such a grave situation, instead of spreading awareness,the #HealthMinister is making absurd statements.”
Congress general secretary and senior spokesperson, Apurba Kumar Bhattacharya concurred with Bora and criticised Sarma’s remarks. He said, “It is very unfortunate for the people of Assam. If the responsible minister is making such adverse comments, then what can we expect from the government?”
The minister’s statement comes at a time when people are fighting across the globe for a pollution-free environment.
Bhattacharya said that the minister should “not provoke” and instead “appeal for avoiding the use of firecrackers.”
The general mood of Hindus getting offended at the appeal of not bursting firecracker is being observed across the country. Just recently, Tata’s jewellery brand Tanishq came under the line of fire for its advert, urging for a green, cracker-free Diwali.