West Bengal is staring at a situation where it could be saddled with fireworks coming from other states that do not comply with the court-stipulated noise limits applicable here.
So far, the state does not have a single ‘green fireworks’ manufacturing unit, the only category permitted now following a Supreme Court order, and the noise norms of green fireworks produced in the rest of the country do not match Bengal’s.
Kolkata police have recently issued a notification stating that the baaji bazaars will commence on October 18 only with green fireworks and the participating units have been asked “to submit a list of green fireworks (West Bengal Pollution Control Board order)”.
However, the West Bengal Pollution Control Board was yet to prepare any such list.
“This is a strategy to promote illegal fireworks,” alleged environment activist Subhas Datta. Green activists point out that if baaji bazaars are allowed at this juncture without strict monitoring, it will only lead to spread of illegal fireworks.
Though the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), the Union government’s scientific institution that has prepared formulations for green fireworks, has registered 34 units from the state out of 990 listed in the country; none has approached the Petroleum & Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO), another Union government agency, for the clearance.
“No one has approached us for clearance yet,” an official of the agency said on Monday.
Units will also need permissions from the state pollution control board and fire department after PESO clearance.
According to NEERI, all the noise-emanating green fireworks are above 90 dB; the limit being set up in West Bengal. “Most of the sound-emanating green firecrackers are in the range of 90-110dB,” Sadhana Rayalu, chief scientist of NEERI told The Telegraph on Monday.
A Supreme Court directive in 2018 stated that the green crackers should have about 30 per cent reduction in particulate matter; but no direction was passed about noise level.
“In Bengal...all fireworks need to comply the limit of 90dB,” said Biswajit Mukherjee, former chief law officer of the state board.
The traders confirm that the green fireworks imported from Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere are likely to dominate the city market before Diwali alongside illegal locally made fireworks as it is highly unlikely that legal green fireworks will be produced in the state before this Diwali, about two weeks away.
A member of a fireworks manufacturers’ association confirmed that local manufacturing of “green fireworks” had already started in South 24-Parganas district. “If legal green fireworks are not allowed at the earliest; illegal fireworks are likely to capture the market,” said Subhankar Manna, attached with the baaji bazaar in Tallah, north Kolkata.