NEW DELHI • India's top court yesterday temporarily banned the sale of firecrackers in and around the capital ahead of Deepavali, the Hindu festival of lights, as India looks to prevent a repeat of severe air pollution that forced school closures last year.
New Delhi's air quality has already hit "very unhealthy" levels, US embassy data shows. This is often blamed on the burning of unwanted vegetation on farms in neighbouring states - usual at this time of year and worsened by fumes from fireworks.
The ban takes effect immediately and will run until Nov 1, said a panel of Supreme Court judges, adding that its impact on the region's air quality would have to be examined after the festival. "All temporary licences to sell firecrackers stand cancelled," said Ms Haripriya Padmanabhan, a lawyer representing the group that sought the ban.
"People who had already purchased crackers will be able to burn them. Hopefully, they won't do that," she told Asian News International.
Diwali, as the festival is called in India, traditionally ushered in with firecrackers, is celebrated on Oct 19 in the country this year.
"This is a nice step, let us look at other sources of #airpollution too," global environmental group Greenpeace said on Twitter.
But others saw it as an attack on tradition. "We Indians will protest and burn crackers," wrote one Twitter user, Ishkaran Bhandari. "We will uphold our culture, traditions and celebrate Diwali."