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Delhi orders ban on pollutive firecrackers ahead of Diwali to ‘save lives’ By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – Smoke rises from a flamework that was placed on the roof of a residence during Diwali celebrations, India’s festival of lights. This happened in New Delhi (India), October 27, 2019. REUTERS/Altaf Hussain/File Photo

(Corrects to remove extraneous word from headline)

By Neha Arora and Saurabh Sharma

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Delhi authorities ordered a ban on the storage, use and sale of firecrackers in the Indian capital late on Wednesday ahead of the Diwali festival to curb air pollution levels which cause thousands of deaths each year.

India ranks among the top polluted nations in the world. The air quality in Delhi, as well as in neighbouring states in northern India, begins to decline around September when farmers light crop fires in preparation for the new growing season.

Between October 2020 and January 20,21, Delhi saw some of world’s worst levels of pollution.

The Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal stated on Twitter that a ban has been imposed because of Delhi’s dangerous pollution levels during Diwali.

Although authorities imposed an identical ban last year, many revellers continued to smear crackers and create a toxic atmosphere in the capital of 18 million.

Kejriwal stated that he had been cracking down hard on crackers long before Diwali, so no traders were able to stockpile.

These comments are made amid fears that the country’s air pollution may pose an additional risk to its health at a time of coronavirus pandemic.

In Delhi, the PM2.5 particle emissions per cubic meter of air averaged 30.74 micrograms during the first week of September. This is slightly higher than the safe level of 25 micrograms per cubic metres as deemed safe and recommended by the World Health Organisation.

SAFAR, India’s environmental monitoring agency, considers PM2.5 particles levels of 60 to be safe.

As part of the federal effort to clean Delhi’s air, some Indian states have increased their penalties for crop residue burning in the past few years. This is to prevent an anticipated spike in pollution which brings smog each winter due to low temperatures.

Officials from Uttar Pradesh announced in August that India’s largest state, Uttar Pradesh, will cease all legal proceedings against farmers for burning crop residue, which is an important source of pollution.

Analysts believe the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is trying to appease farmers, is ready to elect a new state assembly in 2014.

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