In the midst of the garbage crisis in the city, the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) is gearing up for another form of garbage. With the impending Deepavali posing the prospect of air, noise and general pollution, the KSPCB is launching a campaign to dissuade people from using firecrackers during the festival.
Listing out the ill-effects of bursting crackers, which Deepavali has become synonymous with, KSPCB chairman Vaman Acharya cited the example of Kumara Park West, which recorded the highest ambient noise level during Deepavali last year.
“During the festival season, there was a 44 per cent increase in noise pollution levels in Kumara Park West between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. The permitted decibel levels are 65 decibels for commercial areas, 75 to 85 decibels for industrial areas and 55 decibels for residential areas,” he said.
He added that the sound pollution affects not just human beings but also animals, birds and insects. Apart from the increase in poisonous gases in the form of respirable suspended particles, the wastage of paper in making crackers should be considered, he said.
The KSPCB, Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU) and Narayana Nethralaya have joined hands to organise awareness campaigns to discourage people from bursting crackers. While the KSPCB has urged the Police Department to ensure adherence to the 10 p.m. deadline for bursting crackers, VTU has issued a circular to its regional offices and 192 affiliated colleges asking students to take an oath to make this festival season cracker-free.
A week before Deepavali, the students will take out a walkathon from respective colleges to create awareness, said VTU Vice-Chancellor H. Maheshappa.
Throwing light on the effect of firecrackers on limb and life, K. Bhujang Shetty, chairperson of Narayana Nethralaya, said that Deepavali is the season eye specialists panic. “On an average, 400 people suffer from eye injuries every year in the city, with 90 per cent of them being minor injuries. At Narayana Nethralaya, we get about 60 patients each year. Last year, two of them suffered permanent damage,” he said.
He said that most of the patients are children aged less than 15. “Serious injuries happen to innocent bystanders because 90 per cent of the time crackers are burst on the roads,” he added.
Narayana Nethralaya will have additional workforce to work round-the-clock and offer free treatment during the festival. The public may call Ph: 9902546046, 9900510203 for emergencies.