On Tuesday evening, Pooja Shah was surprised to receive a text message that read "Diwali…. 'Festival of Lights' let us take a pledge to avoid crackers, avoid air and noise pollution… Maharashtra Pollution Control Board."
Shah was among the one crore mobile phone users in the state who received the state pollution control board's SMS to promote an eco-friendly Diwali.
The next few days will see the pollution board working with the police to check violations against noise and air pollution control norms. The pollution control board will monitor noise levels at 45 stations across Mumbai for the next three days.
"Along with the police, our flying squads will crack down on shopkeepers who stock up firecrackers that emit hazardous gases. Individuals who burst loud crackers beyond permissible limits and beyond the 10 pm deadline will also be penalised," said Sanjay Bhuskute, spokesperson, MPCB.
Apart from enforcing the 10 pm deadline, the state environment department last year ordered a blanket ban on bursting firecrackers on the streets. Residents can burst crackers only in their society premises or in playgrounds and opens spaces.
Those found bursting crackers that emit a sound of more than 125 decibel (105 bB for a series of crackers), will be liable to pay a fine of Rs 1,250 or even face imprisonment up to eight days if convicted.
Non-government organization, Awaaz, will also record sounds levels in various parts of the city during the festival
According to Awaaz, the festival has become quieter over the years with last year's Diwali being quieter than 2009.
"With all the awareness on noise deadline and the effects it could have on health, the festival has become quieter. We hope that stringent action is taken against those flouting noise rules," said Mohana Nair from Awaaz.