The orders allowing the bursting of green firecrackers on Diwali night actually paved the way for the entry of banned crackers into a number of pockets in Kolkata, police sources said.
Residents across the city said Diwali 2021 was noisier than last year’s festival of lights. Even in the heart of the city people complained of frequent violation of the cracker ban.
At least 88 people were arrested in the Kolkata police area till around 9pm and around 219kg of banned firecrackers was seized on Thursday.
At least 21 people were arrested from different places under the Bidhannagar commissionerate, including Lake Town, Bangur and Narayanpur till around 10pm on Thursday. The cops said they had also seized around 1,580kg of firecrackers till Diwali night.
Last year, the high court had issued a blanket ban on crackers, making it easier for the cops to implement the order.
This year, initially, the state pollution board had only allowed the use of green crackers on Diwali, for two hours from 8pm. The high court later imposed a ban on all crackers, including green ones.
The Supreme Court, however, set aside the high court order, allowing bursting of green crackers from 8pm to 10pm.
“A blanket ban is always easier to implement. But now whenever we are trying to seize crackers, the onus is on us to prove that they are not green crackers,” said an officer in central Kolkata.
Pockets such as Posta, Burrabazar, Ballygunge and Gariahat were relatively quiet in the evening. But residents started complaining of the bursting of noisy firecrackers after 8pm. Similar complaints came from residents of other areas, too.
In earlier Diwalis, people bursting firecrackers on thoroughfares was a common sight in Kolkata. This year the action shifted into lanes and bylanes.
This newspaper spotted noisy firecrackers being burst in a bylane off Raja Dinendra Street in north Kolkata minutes past 8pm.
The state pollution control board (PCB) had received 16 complaints till about 8.45pm on Thursday. The complaints started coming in greater numbers as the window for bursting green crackers approached.
A senior official of the PCB said all 16 complaints were related to bursting of firecrackers. “The complaints came from places like Baguiati, Garia, Narendrapur, Sonarpur, Dum Dum, Shibpur and Shyamnagar in North 24-Parganas. We have forwarded all the complaints to the police. The complaints related to violations in Kolkata proper were forwarded to the city police. For districts, the control room of the state’s director general of police was alerted,” the official said.
“It seems the situation was better than 2019 or the years before that. But we have to see how Friday goes before we can say confidently whether the scene is getting better or not.”
Sparklers, flower pots and rockets lit up the sky in a Behala neighbourhood on Thursday evening. Bombs were few and far in between, both in the run-up to Diwali and on Diwali night.
Many families had fireworks delivered at their doorstep from Nungi in South 24-Parganas. “I placed orders for sparklers, rockets and flower pots on Wednesday afternoon. I got them at my doorstep early on Thursday,” said a resident of Sarsuna, on the southern fringes of Kolkata.
“There are some garages next to my home. A regular nuisance on Kali Puja and the day before and after has been continuous blaring of the cars’ alarm systems because of the sound of firecrackers. This year, till Thursday evening, the alarms went off only occasionally. The frequency increased from 7.30pm but it was still lower than before,” said a resident of Behala Chowrasta.
The police said they were acting on complaints and trying to seize firecrackers irrespective of the excuses made by residents.