New Delhi bans fireworks for Diwali to combat chronic pollution

The Supreme Court on Monday suspended the sale of firecrackers in Delhi and NCR till November 1, 2017 in a bid to test whether a Deepavali without firecrackers this year will have a "positive effect" on the health of citizens and a steadily deteriorating air quality.

The decision comes a little over a week before the festival of lights when Delhi fills with acrid smoke from celebratory firecrackers set off day and night.

The ban on the sale of firecrackers in Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR) will continue till October 31.

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

"There is virtually a consensus in society that crackers should not be burnt during Deepavali, which can be celebrated with equal fervour by various other means as well.We have the direct evidence of deterioration of air quality at alarming levels, which happens every year".

Though the order dealt a severe blow to the traders and businessmen dealing in them, it was widely welcomed by environmentalists. But, when you impose a ban on crackers you apply it to the entire region", Thakur said.Meanwhile, city magistrate MP Singh on Tuesday directed all the police stations to effectively implement the court order."We held a meeting with all temporary and permanent license holders.

Delhi traders said the order was a violation of their right to conduct business and would lead to "huge losses".

A three-judge bench of Justices A.K. Sikri, A.M. Sapre and Ashok Bhushan restored the ban imposed on November 11, 2016 after Diwali past year.

The Supreme Court ban is applicable in Delhi and 21 districts in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh comprising the NCR.

A bench headed by Justice A.K. Sikri, while restoring the order, said: "We should see at least in one Diwali the impact of a cracker-free festivity".

"I guess those people will end up bursting them, so it's not a 100 per cent victory", Padmanabhan said.

Vanessa Coleman