New Delhi: The Supreme Court have allowed the sale and bursting of firecrackers for two hours amid huge concerns over pollution, but with conditions. The court said on Diwali, crackers will be allowed for two hours, from 8 pm to 10 pm.

"Only crackers with reduced emission will be allowed and they can be sold through licensed holders," the judges said.

"We tried to strike a balance," the court commented, taking note of the popularity of crackers during festivals and weddings. Crackers cannot be sold online and if they do, they will be hauled for contempt.

On August 28, the top court had reserved its order on the plea for a countrywide ban on firecrackers to curb the deteriorating air pollution.

The court had reserved its order after hearing the petitioners, firecrackers manufacturers, the Centre and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

The bench of Justice AK Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan had earlier said that there was a need to strike a balance between the right to health and the right to carry on a trade or profession.

The firecracker manufacturers have argued that crackers were not the sole cause of rising pollution during Diwali. It was one of the contributing factors and that an entire industry could not be shut down on this count. But last year it partially lifted the ban at the instance of cracker makers. 

Diwali is on November 7. Bursting of crackers around Diwali is seen as a key reason for increased air pollution in Delhi and its satellite cities. 

Also read: Supreme Court to decide ban on firecrackers across country during Diwali

Safe levels
WHO's database of more than 4,000 cities in 100 countries shows that Delhi's pollution levels improved only marginally between 2010 and 2014. But they were nowhere near the safe levels.

An Air Quality Index or AQI between 0-50 is considered "Good", 51-100 "Satisfactory", 101-200 "Moderate", 201-300 "Poor", 301-400 "Very Poor", and 401-500 "Severe".

Earlier, the Centre has also opposed a complete ban on the sale of crackers across the country and has suggested that the manufacture and sale of high-decibel firecrackers should be allowed to continue under certain conditions.

During the hearing, the court had expressed concern over the growing respiratory problems among children due to air pollution and said it would decide whether there has to be a complete ban or reasonable curbs on the bursting of firecrackers. The bench had cited a report that said 20 to 25% of children suffer from respiratory diseases.