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Kali Puja cracker plea to apex court

New Delhi, Aug. 10: A Bengal-based body has requested the Supreme Court to set aside tough noise pollution curbs in the state as they virtually banned all sorts of fire-crackers and took the fun out of festivals like Kali Puja and Dussehra.

The International Marwari Association said the rules — introduced by the state pollution control board in October 1997 under high court directives, and tougher than elsewhere in the country — interfered with the “right” to celebrate with crackers.

In its petition filed through Chowringhee unit president Indra Mohan Nemani, the association argued that these norms should have been done away with after the Centre notified uniform noise pollution laws in October 1999.

The association pointed out that while the central rules set the maximum limit at 125 decibels within 4 metres from the point of bursting, the state rules capped the level at 90 decibels within 5 metres.

“The pollution board order has completely banned the sale or manufacture or use of crackers in Bengal by imposing an unacceptable level of noise standards without any scientific reasoning,” it said.

The petition added that the “illegal” order had “curtailed” the “right of the people of Bengal to celebrate Dussehra with crackers” and made festivals like Diwali and Kali Puja colourless.

“Even foreign countries have exempted Diwali from their noise pollution laws which otherwise are very stringent,” it said.

The association urged the court to set aside the “discriminatory” norms and pass an interim order exempting the period between October 15 and November 15, when Diwali and Kali Puja usually fall, from the noise standards.

Acting on the petition, a bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan issued notices to the central and Bengal pollution boards and the environment and forests ministry.

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