Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal stopped his car to buy earthen lamps, or diyas, from a roadside vendor in Guwahati ahead of Diwali.
Mr Sonowal said he chose to buy Diwali lamps from a local vendor to promote small businesses, the use of traditional earthen diyas and a cracker-free Diwali in Assam.
Mr Sonowal’s push for a cracker-free Diwali comes in the backdrop of Assam allowing bursting of “green crackers” across the state, barring areas around the Guwahati Refinery, Oil India pumping stations and oil pipelines in Guwahati.
— Chief Minister Assam (@CMOfficeAssam) November 13, 2020
A day after National Green Tribunal’s order on use of firecrackers across the country amid Covid and the adverse effects of high air pollution, Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had said there would be no restrictions on bursting of firecrackers on Diwali as “Hindus have the right to celebrate”. He, however, urged people to exercise self-restraint amid the pandemic.
“With improvement in COVID-19 situation in Assam, we plan no restrictions on celebration of Diwali including use of firecrackers. However, kindly remember, self-restraint is key to combat COVID-19,” Mr Sarma had tweeted.
On November 9, the National Green Tribunal had imposed a complete ban on sale and use of all firecrackers in Delhi, its neighbouring areas, and all cities in the country with “poor” air quality and worse, in view of the impact of air pollution on severity of COVID-19 infections.
It had said sale and use of only “green crackers” would be allowed for 2 hours in places where air pollution is “moderate”, as is the case with Guwahati.
The cracker ban is applicable from November 9 to November 30, and then on festivals such as chhat, Guru Purab, Christmas and New Year’s eve.
The Assam Chief Minister’s gesture is also being seen an endorsement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Vocal for Local” slogan. During his monthly Mann ki Baat address on Dussehra, PM Modi had called upon people to prioritise buying locally made products for festivals as a way to revive the country’s economy, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.