With Diwali round the corner, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday issued notices to 18 States, including Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, on prohibiting firecrackers, expanding the scope of pleas filed before it seeking a ban on sale and use of crackers in the National Capital Region (NCR).

The Principal Bench of the NGT, headed by Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, issued notices to Chief Secretaries of these States by email and asked to them to revert by Thursday before it hears the case again.

The NGT Bench said in 122 cities across these States the air quality was below a threshold, according to records maintained the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

In these cities, “the Tribunal may have to consider direction to prohibit use of fire crackers during the period air quality is beyond a threshold to protect the health of the vulnerable groups,” the Bench said.

Though there are 23 States and Union Territories in total, Wednesday’s notice was sent only to 18 States as three States — Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh — were already issued notices and two others — Odisha and Rajasthan — have already taken action. While Odisha has banned the sale and use of fire crackers between November 10 and 30, Rajasthan has not only banned the sale/use of crackers, but will also fine ₹10,000 and ₹2,000 on shops selling them and on individuals bursting them, respectively.

“Having regard to further developments... the scope of proceedings may need to be extended beyond the NCR so as to suggest that in all the concerned States where air quality is not satisfactory may consider taking action on the pattern of action taken by the States of Odisha and Rajasthan,” it further said.

On Monday, the Tribunal issued notices to the Ministry of Environment and Forests and four State governments on possible ban on use of firecrackers between November 7 and 30 in the interest of public health and environment.