India bans Diwali firecrackers in Delhi in bid to reduce toxic smog

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"The Supreme Court has done this in the hope that prevention of the further sale of the firecrackers will help the Delhi authorities determine the amount and the extent of the air pollution that is caused by them", one of the petitioners, Gauri Rao, said.

A bench which was headed by Justice A.K. Sikri said in its statement, "We should see at least in one Diwali the impact of a cracker-free festivity".

Acting on a petition, the Supreme Court directed that all licences to sell firecrackers in New Delhi and neighbouring cities be suspended until October 31.

On September 12 this year, the apex court had temporarily lifted its earlier order and permitted sale of firecrackers. Last year, SC had issued a similar ban in the NCR region after pollution levels had become dangerously high after Diwali.

While Delhiites are in full swing to celebrate the festival of lights that falls on October 19, a sad news for those celebrating Diwali with crackers is also in place.

While the SC had issued a similar ban in the NCR region previous year, it didn't have the opportunity to observe the impact on pollution levels, it said.

However, the ban by the Supreme Court has left the shopkeepers in anger and dismay, with many of them threatening to go on strike and insisting that they won't follow the order.

"All temporary and permanent licences in Delhi to sell firecrackers will stand cancelled forthwith".

The court reportedly said it wanted to assess whether the ban would make a difference to Delhi's pollution levels.

The World Health Organisation measures particulate matter known as PM2.5 and last week New Delhi levels were 17 times higher than what it deems safe.

Although a ban was successfully implemented last November, fireworks sales resumed last month after manufacturers warned the restrictions were affecting livelihoods. Possibility of people buying crackers from other States & bursting in Delhi NCR can not be ruled out and in such case Delhi traders will be in disadvantageous position and will loose business to their counterparts in other States.

But CPCB failed to comply with the order and told the court that firecrackers did not come in its jurisdiction and the task be entrusted to another government agency- Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO).

Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan also welcomed it and urged people to abide by the court's guidelines and "give green Diwali and our environment a chance". Reports state that the ban on firecrackers in the capital will continue till November 1.

India and China together account for more than half of the 4.2 million deaths attributable to air pollution worldwide in 2015, a study by the USA -based Health Effects Institute (HEI) showed.

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