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India Bans Sale of Fireworks in Capital

An Indian shopkeeper sells firecrackers in New Delhi, Oct. 9, 2017.

India's Supreme Court has temporarily banned the sale of fireworks Monday in New Delhi, ten days ahead of the Diwali festival, in an effort to curb the capital's deadly air pollution.

Millions of fireworks are lit around Diwali, which falls on October 19th this year, each year — exacerbating the city's pollution which is among the worst in the world.

The court ruled that people who had already bought fireworks may use them, but that no new ones could be sold for the rest of October. Analysts worry that this will only increase the smuggling of fireworks from neighboring states.

The Supreme Court made a similar ruling last year. Following the Hindu festival of Diwali in 2016, schools were ordered shut for three days and people were advised to stay indoors to avoid breathing the choking smog. Every year after the festival, hospitals report a spike in patients admitted with respiratory and asthma problems.

According to a joint report by two U.S.-based health research institutes earlier this year, India's poor air quality results in over a million premature deaths every year.

A 2014 World Health Organization survey of more than 1,600 cities around the world ranked New Delhi as the most polluted.