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Noisy Diwali in Mumbai; maximum level of 117 decibels recorded, eclipsing last year’s reading

The maximum noise level recorded in Mumbai during celebrations this year was 117 decibels, up from the top reading of 109.1 decibels last year, Awaaz Foundation said.

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Noise levels during Diwali celebrations in several parts of Mumbai exceeded readings of last year, and firecrackers were burst beyond the 10 pm deadline set by the courts, an NGO specialising in noise pollution awareness said on Monday.

Diwali was celebrated with traditional pomp and fervour, marked with lights and firecrackers, across the nation on Sunday.

The maximum noise level recorded in Mumbai during celebrations this year was 117 decibels, up from the top reading of 109.1 decibels last year, Awaaz Foundation said.

The decibel levels peaked between 82 and 117 at Marine Drive in south Mumbai at 9:55 pm, with the promenade seeing a huge crowd of revellers bursting ”serial” and ”aerial” bombs, the NGO’s founder Sumaira Abdulali said in a release.

The police began stopping the bursting of firecrackers only after 10:10 pm, and also detained some people for not heeding directives in this connection, the NGO’s release said.

On Friday, the Bombay High Court directed that firecrackers could be burst only between 8 pm and 10 pm in the state in view of the deteriorating air quality in the metropolis and several other major cities.

The bursting of firecrackers increased after 9 pm at Marine Drive, the Awaaz Foundation’s release added.

”At Shivaji Park, firecracker use was observed at about 7.45 pm. Barring a few stray crackers at a distance, there were few firecrackers used along the road from Shivaji Park (in Dadar) to Marine Drive,” the release said.

”At Shivaji Park, which is a residential zone, the noise level was recorded at 99 decibels at 7.45 pm and 95 decibels at 11.45 pm. During Diwali in 2021, the highest noise level, at 100.4 decibels, was recorded at Shivaji Park,” it added.

This year, fewer aerial crackers were burst overall when compared to the period since 2020, but the bursting of loud serial crackers increased the decibel levels at several points, the NGO said.

”Though no crackers containing toxic chemicals are permitted as per Supreme Court orders, their presence was detected during chemical analysis. It included barium, a chemical banned by the apex court,” the release informed.

It said the air would contain these harmful chemicals, including barium, in the period after Diwali and would contribute to poor AQI.

For the first time in a decade, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board and Awaaz Foundation did not conduct their annual pre-Diwali joint firecracker testing to determine their noise levels, the release informed.

Meanwhile, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Monday appealed to citizens to refrain from bursting firecrackers on the remaining two days of the Diwali festivities.

In Maharashtra, Bali Pratipada or Bali Padwa (November 14), an occasion when devotees worship Lord Krishna, and Bhaubeej (November 15), a festival that signifies the importance of brother-sister bonding, form part of Diwali celebrations and people burst firecrackers on these two days also.

The civic body urged Mumbai residents to celebrate the two festivals in an environment-friendly, green, and pollution-free way to address the pressing issue of air pollution.

In a release, the BMC urged citizens to refrain from using firecrackers besides avoiding the use of plastic bags. “Furthermore, citizens are encouraged to utilize waste and recyclable items to the maximum extent possible, promoting an environment-friendly and pollution-free Diwali celebrations,” it stated. Through the release, Mumbai civic commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal advised citizens to celebrate Diwali “safely and responsibly” and urged them to ”adhere to guidelines issued by Honourable High Court”. It said as part of the Government of Maharashtra’s ‘Majhi Vasundhara Abhiyan 3.0’, ‘Swachh Survekshan 2023’, and ‘Swachh Vayu Survekshan Abhiyan’, citizens were urged to celebrate festivals that are free from crackers, plastic, garbage, pollution, and are eco-friendly (green).

“Mumbai city is a shared space, and minimizing air pollution during Diwali is an act of consideration towards each other. Let’s make a collective effort for cleaner air, the release stated.

The BMC asked citizens “to refrain from bursting crackers in prohibited zones such as hospitals, educational institutions, places of worship, petrol pumps, and on roads”.

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