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State thinking of banning crackers this Diwali, says minister

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The government is contemplating a blanket ban on crackers this Diwali in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and the adverse effects of air pollution on the respiratory system of residents, state finance minister Rameshwar Oraon said on Tuesday, adding that the Hemant Soren-led government will take a decision regarding the sale and bursting of crackers during the festival of lights in a day or two.

“We are getting suggestions from different parts of the state on whether we should allow bursting of crackers this Diwali or not. A decision regarding the same will be taken in a day or two,” said Oraon.

The minister added that the government was aware of the adverse effect of crackers on the respiratory system of the people of Jharkhand, especially the ones battling a Covid-19 infection.

“Doctors have already warned against the bursting of crackers this Diwali. The festival will be celebrated on November 14, and we will take a decision well in advance to ensure strict adherence to it,” Oraon said.

Even though the number of Covid-19 cases has reduced significantly in Ranchi, health experts have warned that the air pollution caused by crackers may worsen respiratory ailments and cause breathing problems in patients suffering from Covid-19. While the Covid-19 virus may show different manifestations in different people, it primarily affects the lungs and inhaling toxic air could trigger major discomfort among patients.

Meanwhile, Ranchi MP Sanjay Seth demanded a ban on crackers till January 1 if the government bans crackers for Diwali. He said that fireworks were common on Christmas and New Year’s Eve, and the government must ensure that the ban on crackers continues till the new year if at all it proceeds with a ban during Diwali.

“Why should we only ban crackers on Diwali? Why not on Christmas? Why not on New Year? If a ban is imposed on crackers during Diwali, then it should continue on Christmas and New Year as well,” said Seth, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader.

Several states in India have banned crackers this Diwali citing the effect of air pollution on the health of Covid-19 patients. Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot was the first to announce a ban on sale and bursting of crackers on November 2. Later, on November 5, the Delhi government also imposed a ban on sale and bursting of crackers after chief minister Arvind Kejriwal reviewed the Covid-19 situation in the national capital. A day later, the Karnataka government announced a complete ban on crackers this Diwali. Besides, the Calcutta High Court ordered a ban on sale and bursting of crackers across West Bengal owing to Covid-19 on November 5.

Jharkhand has reported fewer cases of Covid-19 infection than the aforementioned states. However, the Covid-19 caseload in Jharkhand is above 1 lakh and the number of active cases is down at 4,639, highlights data with the health department.

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