More sparkle and less noise?

Police would take action against those bursting noisy crackers near hospitals, schools, courts and other silence zones.

IT IS Deepavali again, a time when the focus is on bright lights, smoke and sound. The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) and the Chennai City Police are co-ordinating on an `action plan' to remove crackers from `silence zones', within 100 metres radius of hospitals.

Kicking off the campaign against bursting noisy crackers in all the 10 zones of the Chennai Corporation, Sheela Rani Chunkath, Chairperson, TNPCB said closure notice had been issued to 24 industries, which had manufactured crackers over 125 dB.

The TNPCB team will conduct studies in 18 locations during Deepavali. Ambient air quality monitoring would be done at Anna Nagar, Saidapet, Triplicane, Kilpauk, T. Nagar and Sowcarpet. Noise will be monitored at Triplicane, Foreshore Estate, Perambur, K.K. Nagar, Anna Nagar, and Besant Nagar. Commercial and industrial areas besides sensitive zones including T. Nagar, Purasawakkam, Ayanavaram and Guindy would be monitored.

G.S. Thangaraj, Deputy Director, Labs, said that compared with last year the fireworks companies had brought down decibel levels in 23 varieties.

The TNPCB has pointed out that bursting of crackers caused temporary and permanent deafness, asthma, allergy and respiratory disorders. Police would take action against those bursting noisy crackers near hospitals, schools, courts and other silence zones. The accused would be produced in the court and are liable for a penalty up to Rs. 1,000/-, failing which they could be arrested.

The Board conducted a noise pollution survey between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. during Deepavali festival last year. In Chennai residential Sowcarpet and Triplicane had a noise level of 118 dB.

The Board has requested public to avoid noisy crackers like hydrogen, bullet and electric bombs besides 10,000-wala `Saram'.

On Thursday, at an informal meeting conducted by 30 children, belonging to the Children Exnora Club at Arihant Majestic Towers, Koyambedu, many came up with ideas for a safe Deepavali. N. Akash is convenor of the club. Nishchint pops many ideas (he has 6599 ideas in all), and many are about a safe Deepavali.

What exactly is Deepavali to you all? "Bursting crackers, enjoying with friends," is one response. Pooja says it is `giving gifts', Amrita says `setting flower pots alight'; and Aviral Bhatnagar, `giving sweets'. Many of the children were not aware of the big bombs that should not be burst. Other ideas : Akash — ban rockets; Guhan — use long agarbathies; Ashwin — dispose of sparklers in water to avoid hurting others' feet. Parvati, 11, was the only one who did not want Deepavali with crackers.

By Akila Dinakar

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