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Shops have been banned from selling fireworks across New Delhi in an attempt to tackle deadly levels of air pollution.

The ban comes 10 days before the Hindu festival of Diwali, when millions of fireworks are traditionally set off during celebrations.

Every year, in the days following the festival of lights, there is a sharp rise in the number of people admitted to hospital suffering from asthma and respiratory problems – and many find it difficult to breathe.

India’s Supreme Court hopes the ban, which will last until 1 November, will help improve air quality in New Delhi.

heavy dust and smog November 7, 2016 in Delhi, India. People in India's capital city are struggling with heavily polluted air after low winds, holiday fireworks residue and crop-burning in neighboring states contribute to the haze, which has reduced visibility to 400 meters. The pollution levels have risen to 15 times more then the safe limit, news reports said. Thousands of schools have been ordered closed, cricket matches canceled and residents warned to stay inside. The US embassy has said th

Image: Heavy dust and smog last November in Delhi following Diwali celebrations

The city’s air is among the dirtiest in the world – and after Diwali last year, choking smog forced schools to close for three days.

People who have already purchased fireworks will be able to use them during the festivities, but new ones cannot be sold.

Last week, levels of lung-clogging particulate matter known as PM2.5 were 17 times higher than what is deemed safe by the World Health Organisation.

Pollution levels in New Delhi hit a 10-year high following Diwali in 2016, according to NDTV, and three children who demanded a fireworks ban had their petition heard by the Supreme Court.

The children had argued: “We are the most vulnerable category when it comes to air pollution, especially from suspended particles and toxins.

“We are foremost prone to lung disease, asthma, coughing, bronchitis, retarded development of the nervous system and cognitive impairment.”

DATE IMPORTED:11 November, 2015A man lights a firecracker while celebrating the Hindu festival of Diwali, the annual festival of lights in New Delhi, India, November 12, 2015. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Image: Those who have already bought fireworks can use them

Although a ban was successfully implemented last November, fireworks sales resumed last month after manufacturers warned the restrictions were affecting livelihoods.

Introducing the latest clampdown, the court concluded a complete ban would be an “extreme step” – adding that a “graded approach” was needed to tackle pollution.

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