Here’s why revellers bursting noisy crackers during Diwali always get away easily despite stringent norms. Despite recording detailed information about decibel levels of prominent locations in Mumbai for the last five years, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) has been merely forwarding these reports to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for academic studies useful to formulate policies.
This, even as existing provisions to regulate noise levels are poorly, if at all, regulated. For, the enforcing authority for noise rules – Mumbai police – is tied up with regular policing and does not take the issue of noise as seriously, say activists.
Joint director of MPCB PK Mirashe said the board has been conducting detailed air and noise pollution studies during Diwali since 2006 and forwarding those to the CPCB for policy-making. “Our mandate for enforcement of noise rules is limited only to industrial zones and not commercial and residential ones. The latter two are dealt with by the city police. As far as manufacturers are concerned, the explosives department and police have authority to check malpractice and lack of adherence to norms,” said Mirashe.
Asked why the board does not follow up on studies with request for penal action, Mirashe said it will require much detailing and that is not the mandate of the studies. Activists say, in the absence of effective action against violators by the police, the practice of disregarding norms by violators has not abated over the years.
“The police do not clamp down on those causing noise pollution during Diwali. Effective regulation during the festival is very necessary,” said Sumaira Abdulali, convener, Awaaz Foundation. Ashok Rawat, trustee of Wacom Trust, said, “We will have to see how stringent the police are while cracking down on violators in silence zones. I am not sure if we can be optimistic.” Meanwhile, official spokesperson of the Mumbai Police, DCP Nisar Tamboli, insisted that the police are strong on those causing noise pollution. “Whenever a complaint is received, our officials record decibel levels and take action against violators.”