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According to scientists, blue whales make one of the biggest ultrasonic sounds among living beings. The sound made by one whale can be heard by his mate across the Atlantic, a distance of around 3000 km! This is the irony of ‘serenity’ of the sea. The hue and cry over noise (audible by humans) pollution looks irrelevant if such facts are taken into account. Yet, noise pollution is an issue that often crops up during big festivals like the New Year. Every major city of the world burns lakhs of firecrackers to ‘welcome’ the New Year. They compete with each other in extravagance, a major part of which is the firecrackers and light shows. They amuse most people, leaving some concerned and skeptic. All kinds of pollution – material waste, noise and air – are caused by such events.

A small village community in Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya shares the global concern over noise pollution. The Dorbar Shnong (traditional administrative body) of Khimmusniang in Jowai town does not allow any firecrackers in the locality. The Dorbar has been the recipient of cleanest locality award for two consecutive years. The Dorbar drew huge applauds on social media from the lovers of serenity and cleanliness. At the same time, it poured cold waters on local youth who were raring to blast it out on the New Year eve. They might be wondering what harm one noisy night would do to the society? Can’t the place be cleaned the next morning and the noise forgotten? Could such traditional bodies do anything to prevent the permanent damage caused by unscientific coal mining in the region?

Another vital question is will the big metros take any lesson from this stricture of the Dorbar? Can any metro ban sale of firecrackers on New Year even as the Dorbar did? The possibility is remote. Rather, ‘lessons’ are always learnt from cities, not villages. That’s why there is urbanisation, not ‘ruralisation’. The Dorbar in Jowai cannot make any difference to global scenario, unless some big city takes up the mantle and it goes viral. Rather it would continue getting afflicted by sins of greater humanity. For example, Maldives cannot save itself from the rising sea level with infinite number of green initiatives unless the world wakes up to it. Let such well-concerned Dorbars come up in the coal-rich areas to persuade miners against killing the rivers, fertile lands.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on January 2)

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