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Cracker menace: PCB monitoring teams to lodge FIRs against violators of decibel limit

Kolkata: In a significant stride to strictly enforce permissible sound limit during Kali Puja and Diwali, the West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB), for the first time this year has empowered its monitoring teams to lodge FIRs in police stations against violators of the 90 decibel limit in the state.

Eight monitoring teams will be deployed in the city, while the regional offices of the PCB in the districts will also have their own monitoring teams. The punishment under Section 188 of IPC and Section 15 of the Environment Protection Act (EPA) may lead to imprisonment of five years and fine to the extent of Rs 1 lakh.

"The Supreme Court has set a specific time frame of two hours (8 to 10 pm) for bursting crackers. The decibel limit of sound in our state is 90. We are taking all possible measures to ensure that we adhere to the apex court's guidelines," said Kalyan Rudra, WBPCB chairman.

The PCB has identified some hotspots in the city as well as the districts, which had witnessed indiscriminate bursting of crackers beyond the permissible time and sound limit last year.

Sonarpur, Kasba, Behala, Ballygunge Circular Road, Salt Lake, Garfa, Beliaghata, Bhowanipore, Dum Dum, Maniktala, Barasat, Maheshtala, Patuli, Tamluk, Jagaddal, Chandannagar, Chinsurah, Salkia, Khardah and some more places have been identified.

"We will keep special surveillance at these hot spots in coordination with police," Rudra added.

As per PCB officials, apart from enforcing the sound limit, management of air quality is another major challenge for them. The PM 10 had shot up to 700 during last year's Kali Puja night and climbed up to an alarming 1,700 on the next day, which was celebrated as Diwali. On the day earmarked for immersion, the PM 10 was 1,200.

"We are trying to make sound limiters mandatory in all microphones and have banned the use of disk jockeys (DJs) during the procession of idol immersion," a senior official of PCB said.

The control room of PCB whose helpline numbers are 23358212, 23353913 and 18003453390 (toll-free), will be operational on Kali Puja (October 27) and Diwali (October 28) from 5 pm till midnight.

People can also lodge their complaints of violation through the newly launched West Bengal Paribesh app. During Durga Puja this year, the PCB had received 140 complaints through the app and had been able to resolve the majority of them.

The PCB has identified 126 types of fireworks beyond the permissible sound limit and has circulated information on them to all police stations across the state.

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