Dr. Avnish Jolly, Chandigarh : Major developments around the India on Law and Environment
1. In September 2001, the Supreme Court passed orders seeking adherence to anti- noise pollution norms and standards for fire crackers before the festival season.
2. The Delhi Pollution Control Committee sent a notification to the Delhi Police informing them about the type of fire-crackers that violate the prescribed limit of 125 decibels at a distance of 4 meters from the point of bursting. It prohibits setting of crackers in the silence zones (that is the areas within 100 meters of hospitals, educational institutions, courts and religious places). Firecrackers can be burst only between 6pm to 10 pm.
3. The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) amended "noise pollution" defined in the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986 and banned the manufacture, sale and use of fire-crackers generating noise levels exceeding 125 dB (AL) or 145 dB (C) notified in October 1999. But the amendment remains unimplemented till now.
4. The police authorities have been authorized to enforce the rules regarding noise pollution. The Delhi High Court order seeking cracker manufacturers to print the noise level generated by them on the wrapper by November 2000 remains unimplemented. We have banned 20 types of crackers that exceed 125 decibels. Any person who manufactures and stores them will face prosecution, says Keshav Dwivedi, Deputy Commissioner Police. The police plans to work closely with Delhi Pollution Control Committee to help police detect the noise levels. People can complain at these control rooms, he added.
5. About 80 per cent of the fire-works sold in Delhi come from Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu while the rest comes from Uttar Pradesh. In Chennai, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board has taken cognizance of fire-crackers’ menace and has issued orders prohibiting the crackers violating decibel limits. The Board has also asked Fire Services and Rescue Operations Wing to ban ‘Rockets’ -a fire- cracker responsible for accidents.
6. Maharashtra government strictly enforced Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 and Supreme Court’s order during Navaratri.
7. Ninety Five percent of the crackers violate the noise and pollution norms, says a study by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)-National Physical Laboratory. The four companies that were studied are Rajaratnam Fireworks Industries, Cheeta Fireworks, Standard Fireworks and Sri Kaliswari Fireworks. The results have been sent to State Pollution Control Boards (SPCB) and the MoEF but are yet to be made public.
8. "Unless noise pollution standards are enforced at the place of manufacture, it is impossible to regulate them", says D K Biswas, chairman, CPCB. "We have sent directions to the Controller of Explosives to limit the number of licenses to sell fire crackers alongwith missives to all SPCBs, Biswas said. Media has a role to play. The response from the electronic media was totally unsatisfactory last year. Most channels aired short films on anti-cracker awareness as and when it suited them. They were too busy generating money from commercial ads to do their bit towards a social cause. Residents of Delhi have not adhered to the deadlines", he added.
9. The Department of Explosives under the Ministry of Industry and Commerce ought to regulate the grant of licenses to manufacturers of explosives, say experts. MoEF also shifts the responsibility of enforcing the decibel standards on Department of Explosives.
10. The Gujarat High Court heard a noise pollution PIL after Navratri.
11. The West Bengal Pollution Control Board met on October 9 to minimize noise level during Pujas in the aftermath of apex court imposed cracker curfew hour.
12. On Diwali day the noise levels touch a deafening 140 decibels, says Madhu Saxena of Voice, a non-governmental orgaisation based in Delhi.
13. Delhi’s Chief Minister launched anti-cracker campaign " This Diwali have a cracking time without Crackers" and its Health minister leads an anti-cracker rally seeking abolition of child labour in the manufacture of crackers.
14. The Haryana Pollution Control Board is seeking measurement of noise pollution in different districts on 12, 14 and 16 November. Panipat has made all arrangements for its measurement, says, O. P. Dahiya, District Pollution Officer, Panipat.
15. The Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB) organized a ten-day campaign beginning from November 5 to bring awareness on the impact of noise pollution due to fire crackers.
16. More than 25 NGOs and 100 schools participated to take a oath against noise pollution.
17. The Tamilnadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers Association (TANFAMA) claims that the restriction-90 decibels (AI)- imposed by the state pollution control board on fire-crackers and other sound -polluting items was "incorrect and unscientific". The imposed ban goes against the provisions of the Explosives Act, 1884 and Explosives Rules 1983, says K Mariappan, secretary, TANFAMA.
18. Gitanath Ganguly, a PCB member quotes Supreme Court order dated 27th Septemeber, 2001 which said, " …this order shall not imply any restriction on the union government, union territories or state governments in case they wish to further reduce the noise level of so advised".
19. Last month Chandigarh Administration implemented Environment Protection law in City Beautiful.
Decision is ours on this Deepawali, let us start campaign to celebrate this festival without lightning the crackers.