Will monitor smoke levels during Diwali, says West Bengal pollution control board

Kolkata: The West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) said on Sunday that the existing noise cap of 90 decibel on crackers will be in place during this Diwali, and all COVID-19 advisories by the state and the Centre would be strictly followed to avoid the spread of the viral disease.

The pollution watchdog is working in tandem with the state police to stop supply of crackers that violate the norm, and raids to bust illegal fireworks manufacturing units would soon be conducted, WBPCB member secretary Rajesh Kumar said.

Asked if any step was being taken to ensure that smoke generated from the fireworks do not harm patients with lung ailments, especially in the midst of the pandemic, he told PTI, "We will go by the recommendations of the government. As of now, we will launch a crackdown on firecrackers exceeding permissible sound threshold. But yes, we have to keep the health issue in mind, too."

Kumar also said that a virtual meeting would be held with all stakeholders involved in organising the festival of lights to apprise them of the regulations.

He further said that if the Calcutta High Court issues any direction for Diwali celebrations, as was the case during Durga puja, the WBPCB would adhere to the instructions, and measures would be taken accordingly.

A Howrah resident is planning to move a PIL seeking total ban on sale and manufacture of fireworks, amid COVID-19, his lawyer Sabyasachi Chatterjee told a news channel on Saturday.

A doctors' organisation has recently approached Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, seeking restrictions on the use of firecrackers, apprehending that the smoke emanated may endanger the health of the COVID 19-affected.

A senior WBPCB official said the board may consider banning firecracker use in the vicinity of COVID hospitals, safe homes for coronavirus patients and quarantine centres, if that was possible under the existing parameters of law.

Joint teams of the WBPCB and the police will hit the streets of Kolkata and its adjoining areas with devices to monitor the decibel level of firecrackers, ahead of the 14 November festival, the official stated.

Last year, nearly 5,000 kg of banned firecrackers were seized during raids, he added.

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