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10 May 2017

Noise bar back to 90 decibel

Jayanta Basu, TT, May 9: The state pollution control board has issued an order reimposing the "complete ban" on the sale and use of firecrackers generating more than 90 decibel of sound at 5m from the source.
The order, issued last week, was based on a report of a committee which had found "confirmatory" evidence of "deterioration of hearing" following exposure to more than 90 decibel of sound.
The order reiterates the ban on bursting of any sound- producing firecrackers in silent zones like hospitals and between 10pm and 6am at other places.
The National Green Tribunal had on March 22 scrapped the 90-decibel limit because of a "procedural lapse" in the 2015 order of the pollution control board that had imposed it across Bengal. The tribunal, however, gave liberty to the board to reissue the ban.
The tribunal scrapped the limit following a petition by the cracker lobby.
The board's latest order, a copy of which is with Metro, has sparked doubts whether it would succeed in curbing the burgeoning noise menace in Calcutta and the rest of the state.
"The order bans the sale and use - and not manufacture - of firecrackers producing more than 90 decibel of noise at 5m from the source," an environmentalist said.
"It is impossible to stop the sale and use of illegal fireworks if they are allowed to be manufactured legally. The latest PCB order will allow - by design or default I do not know - the promotion of illegal fireworks in Bengal, which was once the model of noise control," said Biswajit Mukherjee, environmentalist and a former chief law officer of the state board.
Mukherjee alleged that political parties had always exerted pressure on the board to accommodate the interests of the cracker lobby as they wielded considerable clout in South and North 24-Parganas and some other districts.
"Our focus is to stop bursting of firecrackers producing more than 90 decibel of noise, and accordingly we have issued the order," board chairman Kalyan Rudra said.
A senior official said the board had always allowed manufacture of the fireworks whose use and sale were banned in Bengal. Mukherjee, however, rejected the claim.
Metro has come across at least two orders corroborating Mukherjee's assertion. An environment department notification on December 29, 2009, prohibited "use, sale, storage and manufacturing of... fireworks generating noise level above 90 dB(A) impulse...."
A board order on September 26, 2001, had asked the chief controller in the explosives department "not to allow any fireworks to be manufactured in... Bengal, which generate noise levels more than 90 dB(A)".

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