India’s environmental court has ordered a ban on firecrackers during the country’s biggest annual festival in cities battling hazardously poor air quality, citing a link between pollution and a coronavirus surge.
The National Green Tribunal said on Monday the role of pollution in the COVID-19 crisis meant that the ban was needed ahead of Diwali celebrations on Saturday.
Traditionally, millions of firecrackers are set off during Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Light, but the practice has been blamed for worsening air pollution – especially in northern India which suffers serious smog every winter.
The tribunal, whose powers are similar to a regular court, said pollution caused by fireworks was an aggravating risk to lives and health.
According to the Tribunal, the general ban in all cities with rising air pollution should last until November 30.
India has the second-highest number of coronavirus infections in the world, at 8.5 million cases, and experts have raised concerns about air pollution worsening the symptoms of respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19.
The capital New Delhi and the states of Rajasthan, Haryana, Maharashtra and West Bengal have already halted or restricted the sale and use of firecrackers.

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