The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Diwali decibel discipline cracks
- Police round up 500 for violating noise norms

Calcutta, Nov. 13: Decibel discipline during Kali Puja and Diwali went up in smoke after a lull of a few years with a record amount of banned firecrackers being used in the last two days.

Police rounded up nearly 500 persons for violating the noise norms in and around the city in the last 24 hours. 'The number of complaints were certainly much more than that in the last few years,' said Shyamal Sarkar, member-secretary of the West Bengal Pollution Control Board.

The situation has prompted several city-based activists to decide to approach Calcutta High Court when it reopens on November 16. They will demand a fresh direction to the government to strictly follow the sound norms laid down by the central government.

'I will bring this to the notice of the judiciary. The banned crackers not only cause noise pollution, they are also hazardous to the environment. I will also make PCB a party to the case,' environment activist Subhas Dutta said today from Hyderabad.

The areas worst affected by the cracker cacophony were Behala, Jadavpur, Kasba Dhakuria, Tiljala, Topsia, Tangra and Belgachia, where banned firecrackers were used throughout Thursday and Friday nights. Salt Lake was no exception.

Justice B.P. Banerjee, a former high court judge who had ordered restricted use of firecrackers and loudspeakers in a 1997 judgment, was disappointed by the administration's failure to enforce noise rules during the festive season.

'I had directed the government not to allow manufactures to prepare firecrackers with sound above the permissible limit of 60 decibel. But the order was not followed this year by the government.., alleged Justice Banerjee.

'After I passed the judgment in 1997, the central government also framed a rule on the basis of my judgment and directed all state governments to follow it. Even these rules don't allow the use of firecrackers and loudspeakers above the sound limit of 60 decibel,' he said.

Advocate Gitanath Ganguly, who was appointed special officer by the high court to monitor sound limits but resigned recently, criticised the role of the police in handling violations of noise norms during Kali Puja and Diwali.

'I have received hundreds of telephone calls from people in different corners of the city alleging massive violation of sound norms,' Ganguly said.

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