Indian capital to ban firecrackers ahead of pollution season

The air in New Delhi becomes particularly bad from mid-December to February. PHOTO: NYTIMES

NEW DELHI (REUTERS) - India's capital New Delhi is set to ban firecrackers to ease the burden of winter pollution on its longer-suffering residents, though the move will likely also take some of the fun out of the Hindu festival of lights, Deepavali, next month.

The city of about 20 million people is the world's most polluted capital and the air becomes particularly bad from mid-December to February, as cold air traps dust, vehicle emissions and smoke from burning crop stubble in nearby fields.

"In order to save people from the danger of pollution in Delhi, like last year, this time also the production, storage, sale and use of all types of firecrackers are being completely banned," the city's Environment Minister, Mr Gopal Rai, said on Twitter on Wednesday (Sept 7).

"This time, there will also be a ban on online sale/delivery of firecrackers in Delhi."

Mr Rai did not say exactly when the ban would come into force, but in the past two years, similar bans were imposed before Deepavali. Despite that, people still set off firecrackers with abandon, filling the air with smoke.

Mr Rai's office said the date of the date of ban would be announced this week. He said it would end on Jan 1.

Some Hindus say the ban on firecrackers during Deepavali is an attempt to interfere with their religion.

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