NEW DELHI – The Supreme Court of India lifted on Tuesday the ban on the sale of firecrackers in New Delhi and nearby areas, which was enforced in November 2016 to control the high levels of air-pollution in the capital.
“The suspension of permanent licenses (to sell firecrackers) as directed by the order dated 11 November 2016 is lifted for the time being,” the court said in a statement published by local news agency PTI.
However, the court said that the order could be reviewed depending on the air quality after Diwali, a Hindu festival which will be celebrated on Oct. 19 and normally includes the use of millions of highly polluting firecrackers.
“Keeping in mind the adverse effects of air pollution, the human right to breathe clean air and the human right to health, the central government and other authorities should consider encouraging display of fireworks through community participation rather than individual bursting of fireworks,” the court suggested.
The November verdict banning the sale of firecrackers in the National Capital Region was issued after the city went through a public health crisis, with pollution levels rising significantly after the Hindu festival.
The authorities had closed schools for five days and advised the public to stay indoors due to pollution.
Delhi was the world’s most polluted capital in 2016, with an annual average PM10 of 229 and PM2.5 of 112 micrograms per cubic meter (more than 150 is considered harmful and more than 200 very unhealthy), according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Thirteen of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are situated in India, according to the WHO.