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PCB, police on war footing to keep sound pollution in check during Kali Puja

Kolkata: The West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) along with Kolkata Police is taking all possible measures to rein in sound pollution during Kali Puja celebrations in the state.

Senior officials of WBPCB and Kolkata Police held a meeting in this regard with the associations of various apartments in the city and its fringes, at Paribesh Bhavan in Salt Lake on Sunday.

The enforcement agencies have been facing a tough task year after year to put a leash on the bursting of illegal sound crackers above the 90 decibel sound limit in apartments across the city and its fringes and complaints of violation have been reasonably high in number.

Member secretary of WBPCB Rajesh Kumar asked Kolkata Police to strongly implement the Environment Protection (EP) Act that has provisions for maximum punishment of five years prison term and fine to the extent of Rs 1 lakh against the violators.

"If people think that they can get away simply by coughing up a fine of Rs 200 after violating the sound limit, they are wrong. The police have been directed to follow a specific format and bring any case of violation immediately to our knowledge. They have been asked not to hesitate taking action as per the EP Act, which is powerful and has stringent punishment for the violators," a senior official of WBPCB said.

146 representatives from apartments under the jurisdiction of Kolkata Police and the three commissionerates, namely Howrah, Barrackpore and Bidhannagar, attended the meeting.

Sukhendu Hira, Deputy Commissioner (Reserve Force) of Kolkata Police urged the residents of the apartments to try to buy crackers from the Baji Bazaar. Five such bazaars will soon be held in the city and three in Howrah.

"The police vigil at the Baji Bazaars will be strong and so only those crackers that have passed the sound norms will be available there," he pointed out.

A senior official of Kolkata Police mentioned that in some cases, they have failed to enter apartments even when they found bursting of sound crackers or music being played beyond the permissible sound limit.

Kumar advised the police top brass to use the existing drones in their fleet to keep a stronger vigil on the rooftops of apartments which have had a history of violations.

The WBPCB will soon upload a list of permissible crackers in their Paribesh app, while the police will distribute leaflets in their respective jurisdictional areas so that people have a clear idea of the crackers that have passed the sound test standards.

"It is not possible for all people to go to the Baji Bazaars for purchasing crackers and they will do so from local shops. So, we are taking measures for awareness through different mediums in the next few days about those crackers that stick to the permissible 90 decibel sound norms," the WBPCB official said.

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