| A pandal at Khajpura that has been erected too close to electric wires and (right) a loudspeaker at another near Dakbungalow roundabout. Pictures by Nagendra Kumar Singh |
Revellers out hopping pandals would have to pray hard to Goddess Durga for their safety because Puja organisers seem least concerned about ensuring it.
A pandal in front of Krishna Apartment on Boring Road had caught fire — on September 26 last year, a month before Durga Puja — because of a short circuit in live wires passing near it.
But that has hardly served as a lesson for Puja organisers this year.
At the pandal near Krishna Apartment, organisers have covered the wires this year to ensure that there is no rerun of the mishap. Other Puja organisers across the city, however, are not as careful. At Khajpura, Kankerbagh, Boring Road, Ashiana Nagar and Digha, wooden structures — to house the goddess and her children for the four days of the festival — have been constructed very close to wires.
“No pandal should be put up within 15ft of live electric wires,” said a senior official of the Patna Electric Supply Undertaking (Pesu). “All Puja organisers have to get a temporary electric connection. This allows us to ascertain the load capacity of the pandal and equivalent load is supplied in that circuit to prevent short circuit.”
The Pesu official also said vigilance teams would check electric thefts and the proximity of pandals to electric wires, poles, transformers and sub-stations to prevent a mishap.
The fear of a fire is not the only hazard for pandal hoppers, though.
Loudspeakers with amplifiers at most pandals have created aural pandemonium across the city since Navratri started. The pollution control board said organisers of festive functions were violating all norms.
“The Central Pollution Control Board has asked all states to monitor noise pollution during the festive season. Bihar State Pollution Control Board is also going to start monitoring noise pollution levels over the next few days. The sound being generated by loudspeakers at many places in the city is nearly 100 decibels, which is way beyond the permissible limit (40-45 decibels). People responsible for noise pollution are liable to a penalty of Rs 5 lakh and imprisonment up to five years,” said a senior scientist at the pollution control board.
Residents and health experts are equally worried over the harmful effects of noise pollution on the ears. “Loudspeakers should never be allowed in residential areas. But in Patna, pandals close to hospitals are also playing speakers with blaring music,” said Chandrashekhar, the head of the ear, nose and throat department of Nalanda Medical College and Hospital.
He added: “Exposure to such noise above 120 decibels for even an hour or two for three to four days can cause high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries and insomnia accompanied by permanent hearing loss.”
Citizens are also annoyed with the loud noise levels. “This is the second year that our neighbour is playing loudspeakers for Navratri. It starts as early as 5am disturbing my sleep. My children are unable to study because of the noise. I don’t understand the need of such pandemonium,” said Abhinav Kumar, a resident of Ram Nagari Colony.