Stipulates 2005 Supreme Court judgement

On the eve of Deepavali, the district administration is at pains to spread the message of safety and draw public attention to the nation-wide ban on bursting loud firecrackers between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., in accordance with a judgement passed by the Supreme Court in 2005.

Collector L. Subramanian has said it is an offence to manufacture, sell or burst crackers that emit noise beyond 125 decibels. He has prohibited bursting crackers near hospitals, schools, court buildings, narrow streets, apartment blocks and traffic- dense areas.

But C. Ram Mohan, Assistant District Environmental Engineer attached to the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), said it was up to the police department to act on infringements of the decibel level rule. “We (TNPCB officials) intervene only in cases of noise pollution caused by industries. Issues such as bursting of crackers beyond the permitted noise level come under the purview of the police, who mostly warn the violators and ask them not to repeat it,” he said.

Advocate R. Gandhi said the 2005-apex court judgement was a landmark ruling which protected the interests of vulnerable sections such as children, the elderly and the infirm. The court, in its judgement, had pointed out that noise pollution could be termed as a public nuisance and dealt with under Sections 268, 290 and 291 of the Indian Penal Code. Judicial magistrates had the authority to intervene on the issue and pass orders against such nuisance.

The apex court noted that there was no separate Act to regulate the manufacture, possession, use, sale, transport, import and export of firecrackers. They were regulated by the Explosives Act of 1884, which covered all kinds of explosives.

The Court pointed out that fireworks were regulated by the Environmental Protection Act, 1986 and the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000. The Court also noted that most people were ignorant of the hazards of noise pollution.

The court directed the Department of Explosives to categorise firecrackers as ‘sound- emitting crackers’ and ‘colour/light emitting crackers,’ and to make it mandatory for the manufacturers to print the details of the chemical contents on every box of crackers.

P. Seeniraj of Fireworks Research and Development Centre at Sivakasi said such classification was already in place and officials from the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation were undertaking regular inspection of factories to ensure its compliance.

On the suggestion made by the court to sensitise schoolchildren on the issue, District Environmental Coordinator K. Muniyandi said the School Education Department had instructed schools to have children take a pledge that they would not burst noisy crackers.

Chief Educational Officer C. Amuthavalli will preside over an oath-taking ceremony at the Government Girls Higher Secondary School at Mahaboobpalayam. The collector will flag off a rally taken out by schoolchildren from Tamukkam Grounds, to spread the message of ensuring a safe Deepavali. “We are working towards sensitising the children to the Supreme Court’s observation that sound which pleases the listeners is music and that which causes pain and annoyance is noise. Sometimes, what is music to some may be noise to others,” Mr. Muniyandi observed.

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