Tuesday, October 18, 2011

India Noise Pollution: Maharashtra Govt For a Noiseless Diwali

In order to deal with noise pollution, this year, the government of Maharashtra has called for an eco-friendly Diwali celebration. The pollution board is looking at banning firecrackers producing noise more than 65 decibels. While this is a good initiative, the implementation has not been fast enough as firecrackers based on older regulations have already reached the market.

Silence please: Officials will crack down on stores selling crackers
which flout decibel levels.

Pic/Nimesh Dave

Noise Pollution: Laws for a Noiseless Diwali

The limit of 65 decibels is too low to accomodate any type of firecracker. The good news is that the authorities are at least conscious of the need to take measures to curb noise pollution. In 2005, the Supreme Court not only banned the manufacturing of firecrackers that produce sounds of 125 decibels or more, but also prohibited the use of sound-producing crackers and loudspeakers after 10 pm.

The environment department of the state government has already issued a notice prohibiting the bursting of crackers on roads. While authorities struggle to implement noise pollution laws, there is already a lot of opposition coming from those selling firecrackers. Abdulla Ghia, who sells crackers at his big shop on Mohammed Ali Road, questions the huge expenditure on firecrackers for the commonwealth Games if the government wants to ban their use.

Apart from noise pollution, the norms around stating the date of manufacturing and chemical components used in manufacturing are also violated. While some companies don't print it at all, others print the only the ‘best before’ date. Instead of the material used to produce, most of the manufacturers try to get away with prescription of a warning stating that holding crackers in hands or giving them possession of children can be hazardous.

"Apart from educating the citizens, we have decided to act tough against firecracker vendors who are selling crackers without educating the customers about the noise that each crackers produces. It is mandatory to have date of manufacturing and decibel level, mentioned on the packets. However, we have found that several packets lack this information," said Valsa Nair Singh, state environment secretary, adding that tests would be done anytime this week. "If we find any such violations, we will be confiscating the material immediately." Singh has called for a meeting with firecracker vendors and manufacturers, police department and NGOs in the state, later this week. 
Commenting on the issue, Sumaira Abdulali, founder of Awaaz Foundation, said, "Last Diwali, we saw that the most popular firecrackers did not have a mention of the mandatory decibel levels, while the ones bearing them did not match the actual levels. Hence, stringent action must be initiated against the firecracker vendors and manufacturers. Rising air and sound pollution in the state is a matter of concern for all. We would make an appeal to the citizens to burst less crackers this Diwali."
Last year, a joint study undertaken by Abdulali and Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) revealed that certain categories of firecrackers consistently flouted all the norms.
When contacted, Minesh Mehta, secretary of Mumbai and Thane Firework Dealers Welfare Association (MTFDWA), said, "Last year, several complaints were lodged over the noise levels and to avoid a repetition we have written to the Tamil Nadu firework association, asking them to print the chemical composition and decibel levels on the packets. Failure to do so will result in a ban on their products by us."

Report of Noise Pollution in Maharashtra

Maharashtra Pollution Control Board

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