Bhubaneswar, Oct. 24: Diwali will not be an ear-splitting affair this year as the city police have advised citizens not to raise the sound level above 125 decibels.
Violation of the sound limit is likely to attract a penalty of Rs 500. People are also being advised not to burst crackers after 10pm.
“We might relax the time by another hour, but after that our patrolling teams will take action against violators. Special squads and police control room (PCR) vans will patrol every area and anyone found bursting crackers after the prescribed time limit would be taken to the police station. We will issue a list of dos and don’ts for the citizens tomorrow,” said commissioner of police, B.K. Sharma.
A senior police officer said all 20 police stations, including the traffic police station at A.G. Square in the capital, have been provided with sound metres to ensure that Diwali revellers do not cross the stipulated 125-decibel limit, which could otherwise lead to noise pollution.
“The provisions of the Orissa Fire Crackers and Loud Speaker (Regulation) Act would be enforced strictly this Diwali and it calls for a fine of Rs 500 or more if high-decibel firecrackers are burst,” said the officer.
Officials of the Orissa State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) said directives are issued to the police by the board every year for the strict implementation of laws regarding prevention of noise pollution. “We have also appealed to the people not to burst crackers that are too loud. This could harm children and elderly persons, besides causing serious discomfort to the sick. We have advised them to use crackers which have noise level below 125 decibels,” said B.N. Bhol, an official of OSPCB.
“We are creating awareness among people about the kind of crackers they should burst. The high court has also directed the police to ensure that the sound limit is not violated. If need be, we would provide expert help to the police,” said Bhol, adding that they would monitor the air and noise quality on the day of the festival.
Deputy commissioner of police (DCP), Nitinjeet Singh said there were no cracker-manufacturing units in Bhubaneswar and shop owners have been asked not to sell high-decibel firecrackers.
However, some of the shopkeepers said that though they were aware of this restriction, they had to cater to customers who prefer loud crackers.
“Frequent inspection by the police has forced most of us not to keep very loud firecrackers to avoid paying unnecessary fines,” said a shopkeeper. The police have, however, sought the cooperation of people from different walks of life to ensure a noise-free Diwali.
Even officials of the fire department said that the shop owners must keep sand-filled buckets, water and fire extinguishers with them and ensure that there is no electric wire passing nearby to avoid mishaps.
The police have granted license to 600 out of the 698 applicants to set up temporary shops in the city for selling crackers. The DCP said license holders had been instructed to follow certain safety measures.
“Their shop must be made of asbestos. There should be at least a five-metre distance between the shops,” he said. However, some of the shop-owners, who had violated this norm, were instructed by the police to stick to the guidelines again today.
The shopkeepers, however, seemed puzzled after the highhandedness of the police, saying that they had been following all the instructions mentioned in the license slip. But the police are harassing them.
“We have spent almost Rs 5,000 to acquire license and permission from police, fire brigade and the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation, but because of regular police raids, our business has been dampened,” said a shopkeeper of Unit-I market.
However, people are happy with the steps being taken by the police.
“This is a welcome step by the city police as crackers are sometimes so loud they can damage one’s ear drums. They cause noise pollution. The police must also take steps to stop the manufacturing and use of such crackers,” said Ratikant Sahoo, a schoolteacher.