IT is unbelievable but true. Probably in a lesson for other cities and states of country, the police and administration, for the first time in history of Varanasi, tried to enforce the Noise Pollution Rules and did all out efforts to stop people from bursting firecrackers after 10 pm. In a major relief for students, patients, expecting mothers and literally all sections of society, the whole police force including all the Station Officers were literally on the road to seize firecrackers and teach lesson to the law-breaking citizens.
The firecracker shops were forcibly shut down after 10 pm (so that law-breaking people can’t buy them and create nuisance) and youth were chased and forced to be in their homes. The happier part is: the people readily bowed to the wishes of administration/police and with a few exceptions, in most of the areas, bursting of firecrackers was over by 11 pm.
In an interesting episode, a doctor was caught red-handed burning firecrackers on his rooftop at 11 pm. The local SO in a satirical tone, rebuked the doctor for destroying the environment for short-timed pleasure.
In another incident, some influential people in a prestigious society in a posh area tried to avert police action by locking the main gate and all the channel gates before engaging in full-fledged recreation with firecrackers at the cost of environment. After complaint from local people, the police swung into action and stopped them. If taken into custody, the people and media would have seen the how the rich, mighty and educated break all the laws. The atmosphere against Noise Pollution is so strong that their own society members are so agitated and the demand for strict legal action is still in the air.
It is worth mentioning here that earlier the people in this oldest city Kashi were somewhat ‘addicted’ (due to non action against noise) to high level of Noise in the name of religion and tradition. But after herculean efforts for the last 33 months by an NGO Satya Foundation, the people are now realising the problems arising due to high level of Noise. This Puja and Diwali alone, Satya Foundation put hundreds of banners and flex all across Varanasi, urging people not to produce any kind of Noise in the name of religion and tradition. The students were told that Diwali is synonymous with Diyas and not firecrackers. In just six days before Diwali, Joint Pledge programmes for not using firecrackers were organised in 12 big schools of Varanasi.
“The Satya Foundation through all its programmes made it clear that without stern legal action against firecrackers, nothing concrete can be achieved. The delegation of 30 children from 10 schools met the Divisional Commissioner Mr. Ajay Kumar Upadhyaya on October 26, and demanded that those using firecrackers after 10 pm must be penalised. Altogether, it was a wave against Pollution in the name of tradition and religion which made a conducive atmosphere for administration to come in motion (if not legal action)”, tells Chetan Upadhyaya, Secretary of Satya Foundation.
According to the Amended Noise Pollution Rules-2010, anybody engaging in any kind of noise after 10 pm can be fined up to Rs 1,00,000 (One lakh) or imprisonment upto five years or both.
The people in Varanasi are very happy that even on Diwali night, the police force took lots of pains to give due sleep and peace to them as per the Supreme Court guidelines. And due credit must be given to the Divisional Commissioner, AK Upadhyaya, District Magistrate Ravindra and DIG DK Thakur for taking this historical initiative. An initiative which was never heard or even thought of-deploying the whole force for enforcing the law of land and stopping the firecrackers after 10 pm and that too on eve of Diwali. Though not full success was achieved, but with this kind of passion and public movement, one can always hope for better results next time.
(The writer Chetan Upadhyaya is a Secretary, Satya Foundation)