Concerned over the city’s environment which deteriorates at an alarming rate during Kali Puja and Diwali, the West Bengal Pollution Control Board has decided to take stringent action against people who are violating the Supreme Court order banning the use of firecrackers leading to pollution, during this festive season.

For the first time, the board has empowered its officers to lodge FIR against people found in contravention of the rules. For keeping a better vigil on ground level, eight mobile teams of the WBPCB will patrol in different parts of Kolkata, Salt Lake, Rajarhat and Howrah on 27 and 28 October. The WBPCB officers will lodge formal complaints against the violators of the court order and will also impose environmental fines. Based on the level of violation, FIRs will be lodged under section 188 of Indian Penal Code. Section 15 of Environment Protection Act can also be slapped on violators.

Considering the deterioration of air quality last year when PM 10 reached as high as 1700mic-G/m3 on Diwali, the PCB is has started preparing its roadmap to minimise pollution in the city during the festival. With housing complexes and residential areas being more vulnerable, the board held a meeting with the representatives of housing societies urging them to follow the restrictions on noisy fire crackers. In case of violation, the board will take action against the authorities of the housing societies.

“The PCB has provided 540 sound meters to the police for monitoring the incidents of violation,” informed Mr Kalyan Rudra, chairman of WBPCB. “The board will provide additional 800 sound meters to the police for better monitoring of cases of violations. The sound meters will be attached to printers to enable the police to providing instant printout to the violators with the details of breach of the rules,” he added.

To create awareness among the public, the board has decided to launch intensive advertisements on media platforms. PCB has identified names of around 126 firecrackers that create noise at levels more than the prescribed limit. It has also made public a list of names of 25 manufacturers that are authorised to make firecrackers, urging buyers to purchase fireworks manufactured by them.

For receiving complaints, the control room at the head office of WBPCB will be operational on three days from 26 to 28 October.

On 26 October the control room at HO will be operational between 5 pm to 11pm. On 27 and 28 October, the central control room numbers will be accessible between 5 p.m. to midnight.

Similar control rooms will be set up in regional offices of the board during the festival. The contact numbers of the central control room are23358212/ 23353913 while the toll free number is 18003453390.