The Delhi government on Wednesday banned production, sale and use of firecrackers till January 1, 2023 to prevent the city’s air quality from worsening in winter.

The ban will be applicable to online sale of crackers as well, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai wrote in a tweet. The Delhi Police, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee and the Revenue Department will plan to implement the ban, he said.

The Delhi government had banned firecrackers between September and January last year as well to prevent air pollution.

Farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh burn the residue of their paddy harvest during this season since it is a cost-effective and time-saving measure to prepare the fields for the next sowing cycle. However, this practice results in increased levels of air pollution in large areas of North India.

Lower temperatures, wind speeds, and other factors such as industrial pollution add to the problem. Often, the Air Quality Index drops around Diwali, when firecrackers are burst.

Due to this, Delhi has been ranked as one of the most polluted cities in the world. In 2020, New Delhi’s average annual concentration of PM2.5 – particulate matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres – per cubic meter of air was 84.1, a study said, making it the 10th most polluted city in the world.

Despite the ban on firecrackers, Delhi’s air quality index in November last year year was the worst since 2015.