The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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New rule muzzle for decibel devil

With the judiciary’s silent-puja directive being flouted in abandon this Durga puja and Diwali, the West Bengal Pollution Control Board (PCB) has framed a new set of rules to rein in the sound devil.

According to existing PCB norms framed in accordance with green bench rulings, the sale, storage and bursting of crackers that create noise in excess of 90 decibels are banned in the state. But there is no bar on manufacturing crackers beyond the permissible sound limit.

“Taking advantage of this loophole, manufacturers have continued to produce such crackers, apparently for sale in other states. But several manufacturers sell the banned crackers illegally in the city,’’ said PCB officials.

Bursting loud crackers is not banned in several states like Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. There are many states that have set the sound limit at 125 decibels. Most crackers are within this limit.

“So far, if a manufacturer intended to sell crackers in other states, we did not have the power to prevent them. Now, we have framed a new set of rules to seal the source of banned crackers,’’ said PCB chairman and environment secretary Hirak Ghosh.

According to the new guidelines, a manufacturer will have to take prior permission for manufacturing crackers beyond limits permissible in Bengal. “They will have to provide details of the crackers they wish to manufacture, including the quantity and the approximate sound that the crackers will produce to the PCB. They will also have to show written proof of orders from buyers in other states to get permission,’’ said PCB scientist and sound expert Debashis Chakraborty.

The manufacturer will also have to obtain a clearance from the PCB before despatching the goods. “We shall check the crackers to ensure they have been made as per the order submitted. Our men will escort the vehicles carrying crackers to the state border,’’ he added.

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