After spending sleepless nights since September last year due to constant noise of aircraft landings at a newly open runway, residents at areas around the IGI airport decided to take matters into their hands, literally.
Housewives, retired officials and professionals chipped in bit by bit and bought a handheld, electronic, noise-measuring instrument from the US. Motive: to monitor the noise levels themselves and confront the authorities, which, they said, have been “downplaying the problem from the start”.
After their first monitoring exercise at areas around the airport between Saturday and Sunday, they now feel vindicated.
“The noise is much more than what the authorities had claimed ,” said Rajiv Ghai, secretary of Pushpanjali Farm Owners Residents Association in Bijwasan village adjacent to the airport.
As per the residents' data, the noise levels during aircraft landings at the new runway are between 74 and 84 decibels (dBA), and at times touch 92 dBA, which is more than double the prescribed standard for residential areas in the night—45 dBA, as per the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
In other words, the noise that has been jolting people out of sleep in these areas is twice the level considered “safe” by the government's pollution watchdog.
This is in sharp contrast to the noise-level data airport operator Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL). As per DIAL's claims, aircraft noise levels in the areas were between a modest 46 and 50 decibels.
The airport operator's figures are also in stark difference with that of the CPCB, which had monitored noise at the two runways last year. “The average noise level at the runways is around 70 dBA, which is ambient noise pollution at its worst. Any more and it would be complete mayhem,” said a senior CPCB official on the condition of anonymity.
Encouraged by their findings, the residents' associations at Pushpanjali and Vasant Kunj on Sunday sent legal notices to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and DIAL threatening action.