The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cops, green board fear high-decibel Diwali

Unlike the past few years, Calcuttans may not have a relatively quiet Kali Puja this time.

The state Pollution Control Board (PCB) and Calcutta High Court have appointed special officer Gitanath Ganguly to assist the police in enforcing rules to check sound pollution across the state by restricting the use of loudspeakers and banned fire-crackers. But they fear large-scale violation of the court order during this year’s Diwali in the city.

Both the PCB and Ganguly have information that a large quantity of banned firecrackers has been stored in the city and its neighbouring districts, especially in Hooghly. These prohibited, high-decibel crackers are coming to Calcutta mainly through Dinajpur from Kishenganj and via Birbhum through Massanjore, in Bihar.

Banned articles like chocolate bombs and box bombs are selling openly in the lanes and bylanes of Burrabazar, Bowbazar, Jorasanko and Jorabagan, admitted a senior officer at Lalbazar, but local police stations were not ready to accept the allegation.

Ganguly told Metro on Thursday: “For the past four-five years, after the high court banned the sale of loud-clap fire-crackers, the state police were keeping a strict vigil on the entry of prohibited articles into West Bengal, seizing huge quantities of banned fire-crackers every year.

“The police usually start their drive after Durga Puja. This year, traders of other states, especially Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, smuggled their products in much before the Pujas to beat the festival glare.”

Ganguly said he was not sure if the police would be able to ensure a sound-free Diwali this year. “Lalbazar police headquarters has also received information from different districts that a huge quantity of banned fire-crackers was used by the puja organisers this year,” he said.

A senior officer of the PCB alleged that the police have been surprisingly lenient in enforcing the court’s order on the use of fire-crackers. “During last year’s Kali Puja also, hundreds of complaints of violation of the court order were received from different parts of the city.

Meanwhile, during the four Puja days, only 19 complaints had been received by the PCB and Ganguly, alleging violation of the court’s order in regard to the use of loudspeakers above the 65-decibel barrier. “In three cases, I personally visited the pandals and directed the police to confiscate the loudspeakers,” Ganguly added.

A police report said that in most of the city puja pandals, sound limiters were not used with the loudspeakers as ordered by Calcutta High Court.

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