Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai on Wednesday appealed to Opposition parties not to engage in politics over the bursting of firecrackers, The Indian Express reported.

He added that Diwali is a festival that primarily involves lamps.

“Do not play with the lives of children and the elderly for your politics,” Rai said at a press conference. “There are other matters for politics. Let the people of Delhi breathe.”

Rai had made another appeal on October 27, urging residents to light lamps and not firecrackers to celebrate Diwali.

In September, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee banned the sale and bursting of firecrackers up to January 1, 2022. The pollution authority cited the risk of pollution and crowds during the pandemic as the reason for the ban.

The Bharatiya Janata Party in Delhi has criticised the ruling Aam Aadmi Party for the ban.

BJP MP Manoj Tiwari alleged that the Delhi government shows concerns “only when it comes to the festivals of Hindus”, India Today reported on October 25.

“While I agree that we need to save Delhi residents from pollution but we shouldn’t bulldoze on matters of faith,” Tiwari had said. “The government should try to find out an alternative to the firecrackers. And green crackers could be an alternative.”

Meanwhile, Rai on Wednesday urged the Centre to issue an advisory to stop crop burning at least around Diwali in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab, according to The Indian Express. He added that penalties of Rs 1.23 crore have been imposed on construction sites in Delhi found violating dust control regulations.

Pollution in Delhi

On Tuesday, the air quality in Delhi entered the “very poor” category for the first time this season, data from the Central Pollution Control Board showed.

The national Capital recorded a 24-hour average air quality index of 303, indicating “very poor” conditions that pose a risk of respiratory problems on prolonged exposure.

Air pollution in Delhi typically worsens in October and November due to farmers burning stubble in neighbouring states, emission of vehicular fumes in the city, and firecrackers burst around Diwali.