Noise norm row in run-up to Diwali

KOLKATA: The state government may stick to its sound limit of 90 decibels this Diwali as the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has given a go-ahead to the West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) to take an independent decision in the matter.The West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) had approached the National Green Tribunal (NGT) regarding its relaxation of the norm from 90 to 125 decibels.

“We had four sessions. A 12-point memorandum was created against the relaxation. The NGT finally agreed that the WBPCB can take an independent decision in this matter in consultation with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). We have no problem in sticking to the 90 decibel limit,” said B K Dutta, chairman of WBPCB.

Meanwhile, chief minister Mamata Banerjee strongly reacted to the relaxation of norm and asked environment minister Sudarshan Ghosh Dastidar to move the Supreme Court against the order.

The green tribunal relaxation could make it difficult for the authorities to maintain the noise level during Diwali. “Over the past few years, we have been reasonably successful in controlling noise pollution. If the NGT order remains in force, people will suffer during the forthcoming festival,” said an environment department official.

Sources said that Mamata Banerjee had asked Ghosh Dastidar to move the apex court against the tribunal’s order relaxing the sound level norm from 90 decibel at 5 metres from the source to 125 decibel at 4 metres from the source. According to officials, Mamata Banerjee felt that it would be difficult to control noise pollution during Kali Puja and Diwali unless the order was reversed.

The relaxation of the norm resulted in the bursting of high-sounding fire crackers in some parts of the city during puja. However, the WBPCB said that the number of complaints of noise pollution was less this year. On the day of Sathi we got only four complaints. On the nights of Asthami and Navami, there were single complaints. Our monitoring teams roamed around and found things much under control, said Dutta.

The WBPCB will set up more than 20 monitoring teams for Diwali. Kolkata Police and other commissionerates in the vicinity will ensure that no banned fire crackers, manufactured in Nungi and Champahati, are smuggled into the city and its suburbs.

Cracker manufacturers said that the government had fallen to pressures from the green lobby. “We will fight the case in Supreme Court,” said Babla Roy, one of the members of the association of firecracker manufacturers.