Diwali was less noisy this year with a substantial drop in decibel (dB) as compared to previous years, making it one of the quietest in the last decade. However, noise activists said that loud firecrackers were reported from different parts of the city well beyond 10pm, the deadline permitted for bursting crackers .
A day before Diwali, the Mumbai police had issued a notification that allowed crackers to be burst till 10pm. It had cited several Bombay High Court (HC) orders and tenets of the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000.
According to noise readings from non-profit organisation Awaaz Foundation, the highest decibel (dB) levels were recorded at Marine Drive — 113.5 dB, from a single cracker at 11.15pm. The reading was much lower when compared to last year’s high of 123 dB at Marine Drive itself.
The permissible limits for single crackers is 125 decibels (dB), a series of crackers (ladi) have a limit between 90 decibel (dB) and 110dB, depending on the number of crackers put together.
The state pollution control board and Awaaz had carried out a joint testing of firecrackers on October 18 and the former issued a notification allowing the use of 26 different types of firecrackers across Maharashtra as noise emitted from them did not breach rules.
“While people used fewer firecrackers and it was a much quieter Diwali, the enforcement of the time limit was inadequate. At very prominent locations such as Marine Drive, the noisiest firecrackers were burst after 10pm despite police presence,” said Sumaira Abdulali, convener, Awaaz Foundation.
In a letter to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday, Abdulali highlighted that Mumbaiites needed to be congratulated for understanding the health hazards caused by noise pollution and firecrackers.
“It is a positive change from previous years as people used fewer firecrackers and used the police complaint mechanism in large numbers,” she said adding, “Noise levels have been progressively going down and we can safely say this was quantitatively the quietest Diwali in a decade.”
Meanwhile, officials from the Mumbai police said people were fined at different parts of the city for violating the 10pm deadline. “On-field officers fined and detained people for flouting the noise limits, under the Maharashtra Police Act,” said a senior IPS officer. “Strict vigilance and increased police presence was maintained at different parts of the city, especially Marine Drive and Worli Sea Face, on Diwali, where large groups had gathered to burst firecrackers.”
The Mumbai police Twitter handle received several complaints 10pm onwards from areas such as Chembur, Marine Drive, Worli, Sion, Juhu and Khar, where firecrackers went on till 1am in some areas.
Diwali not so festive for these Mumbaiites
‘I coughed up blood on Diwali night’
45-year-old Ajay Karia, a Malad resident, started coughing at 2am on Monday while people were bursting crackers, flouting noise rules in his area.
“I was coughing incessantly for more than 20 minutes. After I coughed blood, I paid a visit to my family doctor. He put me on a liquid diet for three days instead as continuous coughing had affected my oesophagus,” Karia said.
Karia also went on to say since Natraj Apartments, where he stays, is close to the main road it is even more polluted. “I called up the police (on Diwali night) but all attempts in vain. Some of the residents of the building even went downstairs to stop people from bursting crackers but they shrugged them off and continued,” he said.
He feels he would have to leave the city should such situations prevail in the coming years.
‘People who flout norms are selfish’
Sharda Vakharia, a 71-year-old Kandivli resident, had to visit a local diagnostic centre to get her blood pressure checked.
“I was unable to sleep even after midnight as people were busy flouting rules. I started sweating profusely and felt dizzy. I vomited thrice before my son took me to the doctor. My blood pressure had dropped and I was immediately given saline,” Vakharia said.
While talking about people who don’t care about rules, she said, “Even they will get old and would fall sick. They think only about themselves and are not concerned about anyone. These people should at least teach humanitarian values to their children since it is too late for them to learn.”
Doctor advises patient to get out of city for few days
A Borivli resident, Leena Engineer, 34, fell unconscious after feeling claustrophobic on Sunday. “I was struggling to breathe after we closed all the windows and doors to help our 2-year-old girl who was crying throughout the night. People were bursting crackers right underneath our building. I saw a doctor who literally advised me to go for a holiday to a hill station and not stay here or my lungs would be affected,” she said.
She added, “Even at 1am, people were shamefully bursting loud crackers. My child was crying uncontrollably. In order to lessen her troubles, I closed the doors and tried to put her to bed. In the process, I fell unconscious.” Engineer said there is a slum right behind her building. “When my husband asked them to stop, they almost hit him. They were all drunk,” she said.