India’s top court on Friday stopped firecracker sales in and around New Delhi as the worst season for air pollution begins. The Supreme Court asked the government-run Central Pollution Control Board to study and report in six months on the harm caused by the materials in firecrackers. The court ordered the federal government not to renew licenses of firecracker sellers until further orders.
The decision means no one can sell or stock firecrackers in and around the Indian capital, the New Delhi Television channel quoted Gopal Sankaranarayanan, the attorney for the petitioners and co-founder of Care for Air organization, as saying.
This time of year is popular for weddings and families often set off firecrackers with gusto to celebrate. Weak winter winds and the countless garbage fires people set to stay warm also cause air pollution to peak in winter. New Delhi’s air pollution already is among the world’s worst.
The fireworks set off during the Hindu festival of Diwali in September caused measurements of tiny lung-clogging particulate matter PM 2.5 to reach dangerous levels above 300 micrograms per cubic meter.
A UNICEF report says about a third of the 2 billion children in the world who are breathing toxic air live in northern India and neighboring countries, risking serious health effects including damage to their lungs, brains and other organs.