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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: Even as the Apex Court in its ruling in 2018 directed for using only 'green crackers' and had stipulated 2-hour window for fire-works on Diwali day to curb noise and air pollution, Odisha seems all set to again witness a smoky and boisterous Diwali on Sunday.

Though the SC order didn't put a blanket ban on sale of conventional firecrackers, it directed all states to allow the sale of green crackers. A visit to a licensed fire-cracker market in the Capital city gives one a glimpse of blatant violation of the spirit of Apex court order.

"While granting licence, the City administration hadn't asked us to not sell conventional crackers like the myriads of the so-called 'bombs' and 'rockets'. We have 'green crackers' of two varieties: Anar (Kumpi in Odia) and Phuljhari (Jhurjuri in Odia)," said a shopkeeper in Old Town area.

Given the array of high-decibel crackers on sale, brace up for a spike in noise pollution in the city and also the State as a whole.

Significantly, despite SC ruling in 2018, the Odisha State Pollution Control Board Diwali 2018 pollution data shows how the noise pollution in 2018 was higher than in 2016 in the Capital city. The 2017 data is not available as the Diwali day that year witnessed copious rainfall.

Sample this. The sound decibel measured at different hours on Diwali evening and night in 2016  at Nayapalli residential area was in the range of 66 to 79 dB (A).

In contrast, the measurement in 2018 in the same residential area (Nayapalli) on Diwali day had been 76 - 82 dB (A). This data clearly shows a rise in noise pollution in the Capital city, despite Apex court orders.

It is, however, surprising, why the State pollution Control Board (SPCB) has stopped measuring noise pollution on Diwali day in Old Town (Lingaraj area) since 2016. Because, the Lingaraj Area or Old Town had the record of highest noise pollution in the Capital city till 2015, reveals the SPCB data. The last measured values in the year 2015 were in the range of 76 - 89.

As per noise pollution index of SPCB, the standard for noise level should be 55 dB till 10 PM and 45 db till 5 AM. But the SPCB data shows the normal decibel level in the City has been in the range of 61 - 68 dB (A).

It seems the Silver City records a lower decibel pollution than the Capital Town on Diwali day. The range measured in Cuttack's Suryavihar Link Road in 2018 was 66 - 77 dB (A) vis-a-vis 67 - 79 dB in 2016.

As per the SPCB data over the years, SPCB's residential measurement unit at Kumutisahi (Puri) records the highest value of decibel pollution in the State with a high value of over 91dB (A).

Not only sound, the air pollution was also apparently high in Odisha on the Diwali day.

For instance, in Bhubaneswar on 2018 Diwali, the Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) in air was measured at 7.6 microgram/m3 vis-a-vis below detectable limit on normal days.

Similarly, the PM10 and PM2.5 level in the air were measured at 172 and 102 microgram/m3 against 85 and 17 microgram/m3 on normal days.

In contrast, the Indian standard for the above pollutants are 100 and 60 micrograms/m3.

However, in air pollution, it's the residential areas of Sambalpur that had recorded the highest air pollution in 2018. The PM10 and PM2.5 measured values stood at a high of 287 and 220 micrograms/m3, respectively.

Factoids: The conventional crackers have over 130 dB level against below 125 dB level in case of Green crackers. Green crackers use potassium nitrate & zeolite instead of barium nitrate. The emission of PM2.5 will be 30 per cent less.

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