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PCB and cops rapped: Green activists seek CM intervention

No clarity on ‘mushrooming’ units of green fireworks in state

The Plurals News Network | Published 22.09.22, 09:42 PM

The Plurals

Expressing displeasure over the Pollution Control Board’s reported slackness, green activists have urged the chief minister to ensure that the police do the needful to curb the noise pollution during the upcoming festive season. The Sabuj Mancha activists sought the government’s stand on green crackers and said that they “don’t expect much” from the PCB.  

“At a meeting on September 8, senior PCB officials admitted that they had no powers to control noise pollution apart from forwarding the complaints and cases to the police. In such a scenario, we urge the chief minister, who is also the home minister, to ensure that the police strictly follow the Noise Rules, 2000 and the Supreme Court order,” urged Naba Dutta, secretary, Sabuj Mancha.

“Since 2004, the environment department and the PCB have been issuing notices to get sound limiters attached to microphones, but in vain and the PCB has hardly taken action against defaulters. Attaching sound limiters is mandatory as per the National Green Tribunal order, 2019,” the activist added.   

According to noise rules, “a district magistrate, a police commissioner or any other officer not below the rank of the deputy superintendent of police shall have the authority to take action against noise pollution violators. Moreover, the Supreme Court had clearly stated in its October 23, 2018, order that, “In case of any violation, the station house officer (SHO) of the concerned police station(s) shall be held responsible and it would be treated as contempt of court.

“Police officials, must act as per law without any political bias or pressure,” said Dr Dulal Bose, chairman, Sabuj Mancha, former sheriff of Kolkata and a noted ENT physician.

An activist pointed out that while few police stations have been seriously trying to stop noise pollution, many are still reluctant.

Green fireworks under scanner

A green activists said, “The decibel levels of green fireworks once approved, need to be cleared by the PCB before they reach the markets.”

“The Supreme Court order and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) statement talk about the reduction of the particulate level around 25 to 30 per cent but there’s no mention of the noise level,” said public health expert Arunabha Majumdar reminding that in West Bengal, as per the standing norm and the judicial verdict, the noise limit is 90 decibels while for the rest of the country it stood at 120.

“When the issue of maximum noise limit was discussed a few years ago, it was found that exposure to noise levels higher than 90 decibels is injurious to health,” said Dr Basu.

“Even as the PCB said in the meeting that till date, neither anyone has applied nor have they okayed any unit to manufacture green fireworks in the state, the sale of such fireworks is on the rise and there’s been no action against this,” complained Sasanka Deb, a green activist.

Countered by green law expert, PCB ‘evades’ responsibility

“We are going by the Supreme Court order and will only allow green fireworks in the state. Till now, we have about 12 to 13 firework units in the state and have asked them to manufacture only green fireworks,” said a PCB official.

The official pointed out that the PCB has no plans to measure the noise of green crackers cleared by NEERI and explained that it had no role in crushing the network of the ‘illegal’ fireworks adding that it was the duty of the police.

“Though the PCB officials admitted that last year the QR code printed on the ‘NEERI approved’ green fireworks ‘was unreadable’ which meant that the consignment was fake and they did nothing,” alleged another member.

“Police may be mandated under law to take action but PCB cannot shun their responsibility. Earlier, we coordinated with the police to confiscate the illegal fireworks and also monitored violations on ground,” said Biswajit Mukherjee, former chief law officer of state PCB and environment department. Mukherjee is also the high court-appointed special noise officer.

Last updated on 22.09.22, 10:18 PM

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