Levels exceed national limit of 55 dB in several areas in city

To keep a finger on the pollution levels in the city, the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) conducted ambient noise-level monitoring between 6 p.m. and noon at 12 locations in the city in the days leading up to Deepavali and during the celebrations.

It found that the noise level had exceeded the national limit of 55 dB (decibel) in several places during the festival. There was an increase of about 27 per cent of noise level during the festive season and the noisiest places were Kumarapark West (79 dB: an increase of 44 per cent), AECS Layout, Whitefield (77 dB: 40 per cent increase), and Fortis Hospital, Nagarabavi (74.5 dB: 35 per cent increase).

Four places surveyed, however, remained within the limit — BTM Layout, Parisara Bhavan, Peenya and Marathahalli.

The board has also released comparative figures for 2010 and 2011. Yelahanka New Town saw a 24 per cent increase from 2010, while Indiranagar ESI Hospital witnessed a 3 per cent decrease.

KSPCB also conducted ambient air quality monitoring during the period to assess the impact of bursting of crackers, on air quality. Round-the-clock ambient air quality monitoring was carried out at City Railway station and S.G. Halli. Surprisingly, the data showed a decrease in pollution levels. The board attributes the decrease to the 19.4 mm rainfall in the city on October 25.

The norm

The findings clearly show that the city continues to splurge on loud, highly polluting firecrackers. As Pratap Singh, a fireworks supplier said, there is always more demand for normal, polluting crackers.

“Well-educated people who are aware of the ill-effects of standard crackers, and who know about the eco-friendly ones buy them. But a majority opt for normal firecrackers, as they cost less too,” he said.

K.G. Shashidhar, secretary of the Richard's Town Residents' Association, said the scene was the same every year; vehicle riders losing balance as crackers burst on the road, bystanders and stray animals getting injured, and the sea of waste that leave the roads in a pathetic condition the day after.

Doing their bit

To tackle this problem, citizen forums are trying their bit, but with not much luck. As Kathyayini Chamraj from Civic Bangalore said, “When people can't follow simple, basic rules like not urinating in public places and not disposing garbage on the roadside, how can one expect to stop them during festivals?”

Mukunda N.S from Citizens Action Forum spoke about an initiative which met with moderate success. The resident of Banashankari, along with his neighbours, gathered in small groups to burst crackers, instead of celebrating it in a scattered manner and polluting the whole area.