Crackers found violating sound norms

Suburbs led the way in breaching the High Court order of not bursting sound crackers after 10 pm, report Neha Bhayana and Aditya Ghosh.

india Updated: Oct 27, 2006 00:14 IST

Suburbs violated the High Court verdict blatantly this Diwali in generating high level of noise after 10 pm by bursting crackers compared to central and south Mumbai and if the pollution board is to be believed, it was due to illegal crackers available in the market.

Despite a series of testing and subsequent warning over a month in advance from the pollution control board, crackers generating more than 125 db sound were available in the market in absence of any action from controller general of explosives.

Among 26 random samples tested, 19 were violating the sound norm and generating much higher than 125 db, which is the stipulated level of sound that a cracker is allowed as per the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986, of sound with the highest level being 144.9 db.

When HT visited Mohammed Ali Road on Diwali, the retailers were selling firecrackers saying they generated noise within permissible limits. The air-borne crackers were touted as customer’s favourite and said to make only 60 decibels of sounds. Moreover, manufacturers were said to have altered their products to adhere to the norms. Atom bombs of ‘Sumo’ brand were claimed to produce 115 decibels of sound compared to 140 earlier. Similarly ladis (serial crackers) were also available in the low decibel variety, now only 120db as opposed to 160 earlier.

MPCB member-secretary DB Boralkar, however, dismissed these as false claims. "A lot of crackers also come with a figure on the pack but on testing they actually produce a lot more noise," he said. MPCB's test on September 8 revealed that firecrackers available in the market generated noise far above the 125db limit. Even the rocket and fountain went over 90db.
"I think MPCB's report is wrong," said Abdullah Ghia, the third-generation owner of Essabhai, Mumbai oldest and biggest firecracker shop. A member of the Mumbai-Thane Firecracker Dealers' Association, Ghia also pointed out that manufacturers have to get their products approved by the Department of Explosives as per SC orders and therefore are within limits.

"It is probably because of the 10 pm deadline. Everyone bursts crackers before that time and that is why noise levels recorded are higher. Last year the government had relaxed the deadline for two days but this year even that was not done," added Ghia.

Results were sent to the Controller of Explosives for action against the errant manufacturers on September 16 after the tests were conducted on September 8.

But no action has yet been taken, alleged the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB).

The sound levels on average were at 95 db in the 10 pm to 12 midnight period as opposed to 80-82 db last Diwali.

Officials claimed that it was due to availability of such crackers in the market.

"These crackers were all available in the market and there was no clampdown. Also, people carried on with the celebrations for a longer period of time," said MPCB member-secretary DB Boralkar.

MPCP conducted the study at 115 stations in 12 cities across the state including 45 locations in Mumbai during Diwali.

Noise was monitored between 7 pm to 10 pm and 10 pm to midnight on October 21, 23 and 24—the three main days of the festival.

As per the report, officially published on Thursday, the worst hit was Girgaun, which witnessed a maximum level of sound of 112.3 db, followed by Colaba (104.1 db) and Mantralaya (103.2 db) during the 7 pm and 10 pm period.

But even after 10 pm, Girgaun generated 102.5 db, followed by Mazgaon at 94.8 db and Mantralaya 94.2 db.

Suburbs, on the other hand, picked up the noise only after 10 pm in a blatant violation of the High Court order, which banned sound crackers after 10 pm.

Goregaon had a sound level of 98.1 db, Borivali at 95.5 db and Wadala 91.2 db.

In fact, the sound levels in the suburbs were way higher than what they generated between 7 pm and 10 pm.

The air pollution levels were also higher than last year, particularly in sulpher compounds and Repirable Particulate Matter. Mulund saw a very high level of SO2 on all three days, that is 21, 23 and 24 at 79, 71 and 94 respectively.

RSPM levels were also very high at 309 and 296 at Sion and Mulund respectively.

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First Published: Oct 26, 2006 23:48 IST