The BMC had promised to take the bang out of Diwali this year. Yet firecrackers, as loud as ever, could be heard across the city and its adjoining areas all night. Almost until early morning next day, bringing to a naught the curbs imposed by the civic body, in view of the covid-19 pandemic.
According to NGO Awaaz foundation, the noise levels on Diwali at Shivaji Park, Dadar, which is a silence zone, was recorded at 105.5 decibels (dB), much above the permissible limits; for the record, it was roughly equivalent to the noise in a discotheque or that of a pneumatic hammer.
The maximum noise level on Diwali in the city in 2019 was 112.3 dB; in 2018, it was 114.1 dB; and 117.8 dB in 2017.
The Awaaz Foundation measured noise pollution during the permissible hours for cracker use 0n November 14 from 8 pm – 10 pm (the deadline set by the BMC) and until early on Sunday morning.
However, the ban on bursting of firecrackers in public places, in addition to the fear of a second Covid wave hitting the city, didn’t kept Mumbaikars quiet after 10 p.m.
"There was crowding at Shivaji Park and many people were roaming without face masks," pointed out Sumaira Abdulali, convenor of Awaaz Foundation.
"This is the first time since 2010 when Shivaji Park was declared a Silence Zone by the Bombay High Court that crackers have been used here on Diwali," Abdulali said.
However, both the NGO and the BMC claim that despite the violations, the Diwali was less noisy than that in the last few years.
"It was significantly less this year, which can be attributed to the pandemic scare," said Abdulali,
She added: "It was difficult to determine the decibel levels throughout the city; although aerial fireworks and bombs were audible in several parts of Mumbai, they were scattered in private residential societies which were inaccessible. I received complaints from citizens in Borivali, Worli, Dahisar, Thane and Juhu/Versova."
In a circular issued last week, the BMC had cautioned that Covid impacts lungs and patients as well those whpo have recovered have to deal with respiratory issues.
"To prevent smoke from crackers inconveniencing patients, people must refrain from bursting crackers in public places. No firework shows and no related events are to be held at hotels, gymkhanas, clubs, institutions and commercial premises," the circular stated.
The circular further said on 14th November, the day of Lakshmi puja, Mumbaikars will be allowed to light Anars and Phooljhadi (sparklers) on the premises of their housing societies and courtyards of their homes.
According to the data shared by the Mumbai Fire Brigade, as many as 15 incidents of fire due to crackers had been reported on Diwali nigh