Diwali is festival of light, not of noise. Yet, every year, we need to take our pledge on this basic tenet of Deepawali. It is because a minuscule population in the city indulges in bursting firecrackers, despite the ban by the Central Green Tribunal. By bursting crackers they expose others, particularly children and elderly citizens to serious health hazards and can cause annoyance and aggression, hypertension, high stress levels, Tinnitus (perception of sound within the human ear ringing of the ears when no actual sound is present) hearing loss, sleep disturbances, heart disease, mental illness and other serious effects on health.
Long before this Diwali, we initiated campaign against use of banned high-decibel fire-works. This resulted into some success. But there is no point denying that high-decibel fire-crackers are burst on Diwali night. Simply through enforcement, it is not possible to make Diwali night a celebration of light, not that of noise. Two major hubs of fireworks-manufacturing units are located close to Kolkata. They are supposed to manufacture them for other states where the noise -pollution norms are bit relaxed. But pilferage happens and banned fireworks are smuggled in. All this happens because there is a demand.
I, urgently, feel that it is high time that there is a social movement as well as active participations from all walks of life and social pressure is created on the law breakers. A complimentary role by police and other agencies will then become far more comprehensive and fruitful.
From placing air monitoring vans all length deploying thousands of additional policemen, Kolkata is going to ensure low decibel and pollution levels this Diwali. In a bid to check air pollution caused by bursting of crackers in the city, we will specially be monitoring hospital areas.
On Friday, we carried out test on the fireworks. This year we have imposed fresh ban on six items supposed to be in the category of fireworks only. We have already kept round-the-clock surveillance at number of entry-exit points of the city. We have also seized a sizable consignment of banned crackers being smuggled into the city. We are also keeping vigil on warehouses of cracker manufactures so that banned crackers cannot be brought to the market. We will also be keeping watch on the high-rises to monitor surreptitious law breaking crowds.
Awareness is equally important along with enforcement in preventing the noise pollution. I appeal to all the citizens of Kolkata to provide whole-hearted co-operation in making Deepawali a festival of light, not sound. I would also like to highlight the complaints of racing bikes, especially in isolated roads during Kali puja. During last couple of months, strong enforcement has reduced the menace manifold but it needs to be eradicated completely with the active participation from the citizens of Kolkata.
Let’s have a true & safe festival of light, sans noise.
With all good-wishes for Deepawali
Surajit Kar Purkayastha, IPS
Commissioner of Police, Kolkata.