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Firecracker deadline blown up in Kolkata on Diwali

Green activists say Diwali this year was noisier than 2021; violations reported on Tuesday, too

Jayanta Basu | Published 26.10.22, 08:27 AM
Firecrackers being burst in Serampore on Monday after 10pm.

Firecrackers being burst in Serampore on Monday after 10pm.

Pradip Sanyal

The West Bengal State Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) received 62 complaints of noise norm violation on Diwali night, 27 of which came after the court-mandated 10pm deadline of bursting firecrackers playing loudspeakers, officials of the board said.

An NGO received 76 complaints, of which 41 were lodged after 10pm. WBPCB noise sensors placed at several places across Kolkata showed readings much beyond the limit.


The WBPCB and Sabuj Mancha, the NGO, both received more complaints this year than last year, vindicating the allegation of green activists that Diwali 2022 was much noisier than last year’s festivity. The board received 48 complaints in 2021, compared with 62 on Monday night.

In 2019, the last Diwali before Covid, the board had received 140 complaints. Sabuj Mancha received 76 complaints on Monday, compared with 45 on Diwali 2021.

The NGO had received 42 complaints during Diwali 2019. The pattern of complaints lodged with the WBPCB and Sabuj Mancha suggested that the noise norm violation increased sharply after 10pm. 

The trend seems to be continuing on Tuesday as well and the WBPCB and Sabuj Mancha started receiving complaints in the afternoon. 

The WBPCB received 11 complaints and Sabuj Mancha 10 complaints on Tuesday, till 9.30pm. Residents of places like Hazra, Chetla, Kalighat, Bhowanipore and Kasba reported that firecrackers were being burst in their neighbourhoods.

“Around 4.30pm today, we received a complaint that firecrackers were being burst at and around Maniktala ESI Hospital,” said Naba Dutta of Sabuj Mancha. 

Calcutta High Court had on October 11 directed that only green fireworks with valid QR codes could be burst on Diwali night, from 8pm to 10 pm. The deadline for playing loudspeakers was 10pm, too.

The loudspeakers have to be fitted with sound limiters so the noise remains within the permissible level.  The WBPCB received 35 complaints around 10pm on Monday, while the number jumped to 62 around 2am.

“The frequency of complaints peaked between 10pm and midnight,” said an official.

Paban Mukherjee, who was manning the Sabuj Mancha control room along with colleague Goutam Ghosh on Diwali night, said: “We recorded complaints till early hours of Tuesday, but the frequency peaked between 10pm and midnight.”

Most of the complaints were from the southern pockets of the city, such as Bansdroni, Garia, Kasba, Charu Market, Behala, Ballygunge Circular Road, Patuli and Kalikapur, a WBPCB official said. 

Some of the complaints were also from Lake Town and Baguiati. Reports and complaints that bursting of firecrackers was rampant after 10pm on Diwali were vindicated by high ambient noise levels recorded by PCB noise monitors. 

The board’s noise monitoring station in Patuli, a residential area off EM Bypass, recorded 81 decibel (dB) of sound at 2.15am on Tuesday, while all three monitoring stations in Behala — in Sarsuna, Barisha and Taratala — recorded over 70dB close to midnight.

A monitoring station in Lake Town recorded over 70dB post-10pm. Several stations in Howrah gave similar readings after 10pm. The permissible level for residential areas is 45dB.

“Increase of 10dB means doubling of pressure on the eardrums,” said a noise pollution expert. “Our teams moved around till 2am and came across many violations, related to firecrackers as well as loudspeakers. The administration was largely non-functional on the ground. We found gross violations even around hospitals. Clearly, court orders remained on paper,” said Dutta of Sabuj Mancha.   

“We are trying our best to counter the noise demon with a coordinated action,” said environment minister Manas Bhuniya, while admitting that he had received complaints about hospitals being affected by noise pollution on  Diwali.

“Next year, we will try to perform better.”

Last updated on 26.10.22, 08:27 AM

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