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Mumbaiites didn't hurt their ears, nor pockets
Nithin Belle /Mumbai
Filed on November 15, 2015
The effect of the reduction in overall noise levels of crackers was tangible on Diwali night.
Increased public awareness and effective implementation of rules by the police resulted in reduced noise pollution levels during Diwali this year in Mumbai.
Sumaira Abdulali, an anti-noise activist, who heads the Awaaz Foundation, told Khaleej Times on Saturday that the effect of the reduction in overall noise levels of crackers was tangible on Diwali night.
"Noise levels were also greatly reduced in the days preceding Diwali," she pointed out. "In previous years, firecrackers were often used for several days before Laxmi Puja, while this year, very few crackers were burst on earlier days. Increased public awareness as well as enforcement of the time deadline by police contributed to this overall reduction."
The Diwali holidays are the noisiest in India's financial and commercial capital, when tens of millions of rupees worth of firecrackers are burst by enthusiasts celebrating the festival. Unfortunately, many of them do not respect the privacy of their neighbours and burst the firecrackers late in the night or in the early hours of the day.
Constant efforts by activists and a growing awareness among the younger generation about the dangers of noise pollution have led to a gradual decline in the incidence of bursting of firecrackers.
According to Sumaira, there was effective enforcement of the rules relating to noisy crackers by the police, who tried to enforce the 10pm deadline. Activists, armed with apps that enable them to measure noise levels, go across Mumbai and the suburbs and report the findings to NGOs such as the Awaaz Foundation.
This year, the maximum noise level recorded on Wednesday, for instance, was 123.1 dB (decibels), which was beyond 10pm at Marine Drive. But there were comparatively few of the noisiest crackers being used in the metropolis.
"Peak noise levels lasted for about an hour near the 10pm deadline and police action to shut down cracker use was effective by about 10.45pm," notes Sumaira. "There was a marked reduction in the duration of cracker use and of the noisiest crackers."
But in some areas of Navi Mumbai and in the extended suburbs (Ulhasnagar, for instance), noise levels were very high as people burst crackers even late into the night. In the western suburbs, which see a lot of crackers being burst, many areas in Bandra and Santacruz were silent even between 7pm and 8pm.
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Awaaz Foundation's anti- noise pollution campaign has been covered extensively in the Press and media since 2003.