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November 4, 2013

Kolkata celebrates `quietest` Diwali, thanks to strict vigil by Kolkata Police

Kolkata celebrates `quietest` Diwali, thanks to strict vigil by Kolkata Police

The city had its quietest Kali Puja in five years on Saturday. Apprehensions about a major noise explosion happening proved unfounded, largely due to strict vigil by the police and the West Bengal pollution control board.

More than 700 were arrested from around Kolkata for violating the decibel level or storing banned crackers. Kolkata recorded a highest noise level of 92 decibels, which is just 2 decibels above the permissible limit, according to green NGO Saviours and Friends of Environment (SAFE) which recorded the sound and air pollution levels on Saturday evening.

Kasba, Ruby Hospital crossing and parts of Salt Lake were noisier than the rest of the city. But they were far quieter than they would be in previous years. The average noise level remained between 79 decibels and 83 decibels, well below the 90 decibel limit. “This was a pleasant surprise. We had braced for a far noisier evening, but things were different. Areas like Ultadanga, Salt Lake and Kamarhati, that recorded an average of 115-120 decibels last year, were silent. Very few banned crackers were burst,“ said Sudipta Bhattacharya of SAFE. Kolkata had recorded a highest of 127 decibels last year.

The police seized about 187 kilograms of illegal firecrackers. The monitoring continued on Sunday night also.

The WBPCB had opened a control room at Paribesh Bhavan to receive complaints of bursting of noisy crackers. “We received about 50 complaints from across the state on Saturday. Except a few sporadic cases, the amount of bursting of illegal noisy firecrackers has come down this time,“ said WBPCB chairman Binay Kanti Dutta.

Air pollution shot up alarmingly, though. The city`s suspended particulate matter count (SPM) was 471 mg/metre cube on Saturday evening. It was nearly five times the permissible limit of 100 mg. “While noise-emitting crackers were curbed, the fume-producing ones took over,“ said Bhattacharya.

771 people were arrested in nightlong operations, which went on till Sunday morning for bursting prohibited crackers, Kolkata Police said. A constable with Maniktala PS, Gopi Nath Sau, was injured while chasing some locals on the railway tracks near the police station. Late on Sunday night, an NGO lodged a complaint with the WBPCB that some locals were bursting illegal crackers in front of the B C Roy Hospital.