Mind the language
Quite an earful
Sir — Thirteen-year-old Nabanita Das of Assam has become the new icon representing the importance of the Assamese language. As a punishment for conversing in Assamese in school, Das was made to write 1,000 times that she will speak in English. Most English-medium schools of Assam torture students for speaking in their mother tongue. This is unconstitutional and inhuman. English may be the language of instruction, but children must be free to converse with their friends in any language they like.
Sumon Das, Guwahati
Sir — It is unfortunate that while the West Bengal Pollution Control Board acknowledges the problem of endless honking in Calcutta, it shows little concern for the district towns and suburban areas of the state (“Noise alert”, Feb 3). Unregulated vehicular emission and honking are graver problems in Burdwan, Asansol and other such places than they are in Calcutta. I feel that honking is directly related to our notorious tendency to violate road rules — the attention of jaywalkers talking on their mobile phones can be drawn only by using horns.
The authorities also need to tackle the problem of unnecessary honking in the midst of traffic jams. Moreover, auto rickshaw drivers show scant regard for the noise they create — one can hardly escape the ear-splitting sound from their music systems. The plethora of measures to arrest air and sound pollution seem to exist only in theory. They are not actually enforced because of the perpetual shortage of manpower and machinery.
On the concluding day of the Bardhaman Utsav, loud firecrackers were burst in the presence of government officials, peoples’ representatives, and hundreds of spellbound men and women. The bursting of firecrackers has now become a part of our lives. Most marriage processions are incomplete without deafening sound, and the practice continues without any resistance. To cite another example of people’s seeming fondness for sound, a small mosque close to my home calls out the azan at a high volume from 5 am onwards, violating the law that seeks to regulate the sound level at night in residential areas.
Subhankar Mukherjee, Burdwan
Sir — The existing sound-control rules are only partially enforced, causing many to flout them with impunity. It would be pertinent here to share my experience during the 2009 Durga Puja celebrations.
The club loudspeakers of our neighbourhood in Behala Parnasree were blaring so loudly one evening that it was difficult to remain inside the house. I rushed out and registered my protest with one of the organizers, shouting to make myself audible. The response he gave was shocking: since the loudspeakers had not been switched on during the day (which was a fact) the volume was turned extra-loud in the evening. My arguments countering this bizarre logic fell on deaf ears and I was told, “ja khushi korun giye (do whatever you like).” Such a wilful disregard of rules was possible only because there was no administrative check in place.
Suman S. Dasgupta, Calcutta
Sir — It has been reported that the level of noise in Calcutta is more than 70 decibels, while it should not exceed 55 decibels during the day and 45 decibels at night. The sound produced by the trains that run along the Metro extension from Tollygunge to Garia is also beyond the permissible limit. As of now, roughly one train passes by every three minutes. The noise is, therefore, almost continuous. With the number of trains set to increase shortly, one can only guess what the situation would be like in future.
S.N. Mitra, Calcutta