New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday banned the manufacture and sale of firecrackers in the national capital region (NCR) to stem air pollution in Delhi and neighbouring towns.

A three-judge bench headed by T.S Thakur, Chief Justice of India, directed the Centre to suspend the licenses of firecracker manufacturers and sellers and not hand out fresh licenses till further orders from the court.

A report on harmful effects of materials used in manufacturing firecrackers was also sought from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), to be submitted to the court within three months.

The court was hearing an application moved by three children after air pollution levels in Delhi reached dangerous levels after Diwali on 30 October. The petitioners sought stringent implementation of existing guidelines and new directives from the court to curb pollution.

Pollution reached hazardous levels in the national capital region (NCR) centred on Delhi in the days following Diwali. Post-harvest stubble burning by farmers in the surrounding states was partly blamed for the rise in pollution to 15 times the safe limit.

To tackle smog, the apex court ordered the centre and respective state governments to come up with an immediate plan to tackle the deteriorating air quality in Delhi. Alongside, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) banned all construction activity and shut down stone-crushing units and brick kilns for a week in the national capital region.