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Go toward the light, says state govt

With only about two weeks left for Diwali, the state Environment Ministry is yet to organise a meeting with firecracker manufacturers and retailers to help promote light-emitting crackers over sound-emitting ones in a bid to promote an eco-friendly Diwali. This, after various NGOs approached the ministry to reduce the permitted decibel levels for crackers, revealed state environment secretary Valsa Nair Singh.

"But we are helpless, since the Supreme Court permits crackers that emit a noise of upto of 125 decibels. All we can do is educate the masses about the pollution caused by firecrackers. We will be calling a meeting in a few days to discuss ways to promote an eco-friendly Diwali," she added.



Last year, in a test drive conducted in association with NGO Awaaz Foundation, which has been fighting against the rising decibel level of crackers for years, officials from the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board found that 50 per cent of firecrackers across the city emitted sounds between 130 and 147 decibels, exceeding the permissible level.

"We will be speaking to manufacturers and retailers and clamping down on decibel-violating crackers. We will also educate school children to desist from bursting loud crackers," she said.

Last year, the state Environment Ministry had instituted a medical panel to ascertain if respiratory ailments rise after Diwali. After the panel confirmed a considerable rise post the festival, the ministry had released a 40-second advertisement telecast in theatres, multiplexes and on television, in which actors Aamir Khan and Mugdha Godse had exhorted you to have a safe, pollution-free festival.

Sumaira Abdulali, founder, Awaaz Foundation, rued, "Last Diwali, we saw that the most popular firecrackers did not mention the mandatory decibel levels; while the readings for those that carried the information did not match their actual decibel labels. These should have been taken care of before the crackers were manufactured, but unfortunately we are ignorant about these things."

Abdulali is also of the opinion that permitting firecrackers that emit light after 10 pm should be banned, since they lead to air pollution. "We had requested the cops to seize crackers from the market and get them tested before they reach small retailers, but nothing has been done so far."

Did you know?
There are 1,157 spots designated as silence zones in the city and its suburbs

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