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HindustanTimes Wed,03 Sep 2014

Senior citizens in Kolkata chip in to fight against firecrackers

Joydeep Thakur , Hindustan Times  Kolkata, September 23, 2013
First Published: 10:57 IST(23/9/2013) | Last Updated: 11:01 IST(23/9/2013)

It’s the fight against ear-deafening crackers.

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And to raise funds for the legal battle, senior citizens including former bureaucrats, retired judges, legal officers and professors are all chipping in with their hardearned post-retirement funds so that your parents and children can stay safe this Kali puja.

The National Green Tribunal has recently relaxed the upper sound limit of crackers and has raised it from 90 decibels to 125 decibels for West Bengal.

The relaxation means that more than 50 varieties of banned crackers would find a free way in the market this Kali puja.

The deafening sounds they would make, would mainly affect the old and the infants.

It would have a long lasting effect on their eardrums, which in some cases might even lead to deafness.

HT had earlier reported that more than 40 NGOs, which have formed a common platform named Sabuj Mancha would be moving the apex court against the NGT’s order.

But fund seems to be a major hurdle and here the senior citizens have come as a messiah.

“Fighting a legal battle in the apex court requires lump sum money. And we are finding it hard to raise this fund. But our members and advisors have assured that they would be helping us with whatever resources they have to fight the case,” said Naba Dutta, convener of Sabuj Mancha.

Former chief legal officer of the West Bengal Pollution Control Board Biswajit Mukherjee who retired in 2012 said: “I would be going to Delhi on Friday to speak to the advocates. I have already encashed one of my fixed deposits and have arranged around 30,000 to 40,000. We cannot let this happen.”

Mukherjee is just one name.

The list also includes eminent personalities such as former justice Bhagwati Prasad Bandopadhyay, special officer appointed by High Court Gitanath Ganguly, retired professor Sujoy Basu among others.

They are all donating from their own resources so that crackers, which produce sound more than 90 decibels, are not allowed.

Gitanath Ganguly who retired years ago as the special officer appointed by the Calcutta High Court to monitor sound levels said: “Fund is a hurdle. But we are all donating from our hard earned resources to arrange the money. We are against the raising of sound limit of crackers and we would like to see the end of it.”

Meanwhile the state government has also announced that it would also appeal before the Supreme Court against the NGT’s order.

But the city’s green lobby has apparently lost faith on the state government after it lost the case in the NGT.

Allegations have surfaced that the Trinamool Congress-led state government in collusion with traders, the cracker lobby and a section of party leaders did not present all the facts before the tribunal deliberately.

The state has however denied the allegation.

“Let them (the state government) move. We would be moving parallely as we are not sure what they would do and how they would present the case,” said Mukherjee.


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