No big bang this diwali

Officials will conduct random checks on firecracker vendors across the city to ensure crackers are in accordance with the permissible decibel norms

Taking a serious note on the air and noise pollution caused by firecrackers, the State Environment Ministry has decided to curb the menace, this Diwali. So, the noisy Laxmi bombs and the crackling 5,000 'ladis' could just become a thing of the past.

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

Pic/Nimesh Dave

Officials will be carrying out random checks at stores selling crackers to ensure that the manufacturers have printed details on the packets about the cracker's decibel level. Besides, as usual, the officials would be testing firecrackers for their noise levels, making sure that they are within the permissible limits.

"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."

S Damodaran, marketing consultant with Standard Fireworks at Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu, said, "Wherever possible, we mention details of decibel level and manufacturing date. But with our material going all over India, language is a problem. We cannot have these details printed in all regional languages. We are following the rules and regulations, and are creating awareness in whatever possible manner we can. Though the ministry feels crackers are a reason for air and noise pollution, the demand is growing day by day. We have seen a growth of 15 per cent this year."

Prices skyrocket
Owing to various taxes and high wages paid to the workers, the cost of firecrackers has gone up by 25 per cent this year. Confirming the same, Damodaran said that this year there is a major hike in the prices of firecrackers.

125 dB
Supreme Court's upper limit for noise produced by firecrackers

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