Fast against high-decibel noise from tea factory

Agitated over constant sound emanating from a bought-leaf tea factory, residents of Rahutbagan in Jalpaiguri launched a 48-hour hunger strike today.

The residents alleged that Unique Tea Born Pvt Ltd that produces around 4,000kg of CTC tea everyday has become a cause of concern for around 200 people of the locality on the outskirts of Jalpaiguri.

“We had approached several government officials, including those of the Pollution Control Board (PCB). But nothing has changed till date,” said Dulal Dey who lives in Rahutbagan.

According to the residents, the roaring of machines, which is regularly audible in the area throughout the day, can sometimes be heard even at night. “Because of the noise from the factory, we are forced to speak to each other in high-pitched voice at home. We cannot sleep at night and many of us have high blood pressure and gastric problems,” said Jiban Kar, one of the two persons who are on the fast.

The residents said a meeting had been convened at the PCB office at Matigara in December last year and it was decided that experts would be sent to look into the complaint and advise the management as to how the noise could be reduced. “But nobody has come and inspected the machines,” said another resident.

The factory did not function today as many people had gathered in front of it to express solidarity with those on the fast.

Diptendu Biswas, the manager of the factory, said he unit was ready to follow any instruction given by the PCB. “We have around 70 workers and most of them are local people. Requests had been made to the residents to call off the strike and sit across the table with PCB officials and us, but they were not ready to relent.”

Biswajit Mukherjee, the senior law officer of state environment department, said over the phone from Calcutta that it was mandatory for any unit in an industrial area to keep sound limited to 70 decibels. “If the unit is in a commercial area, the limit is 65. In non-commercial and non-industrial areas, the sound limit is 55 decibels.” He said the limits were mentioned in the Environment Protection Act, 1986, read with Noise Regulation and Control Rules, 2000.