Anti-noise campaigners found Ganesh processions breaching consecutive noise levels during the last immersion day on Thursday, with the area outside Opera House junction, south Mumbai, being the noisiest at 116.4 decibels (dB), for a second consecutive year.
Awaaz Foundation, which recorded noise levels from processions in the city and suburbs, identified mandals that violated noise rules by playing loudspeakers till 1am early Friday morning, an hour past the permissible time frame, at Girgaum Chowpatty.
High noise levels were also observed from locations such as Prabhadevi at 114 dB, SV Road, near the Juhu airfield, at 112.2 dB and Worli at 112 dB.
Though noise levels were high, this year’s Ganeshotsav was less noisy than previous years, activists said. Last year, the area outside Opera House junction had recorded 123.7dB while in 2014, noise levels on the final day of the festival were 114 dB at Juhu and Dadar.
According to the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000, residential and silence zones should have a maximum noise level of 55dB and 50dB in the day and 45dB and 40dB at the night.
“The reason for the decline appears to be that fewer DJs were used and volumes were reduced, which did not exceed 105 dB this year,” said Sumaira Abdulali, convener, Awaaz Foundation. “However, the highest noise levels were from metal plates and drums. Mandals of political parties continued non-essential announcements for hours beyond the deadline at very high decibel levels.”
She added that noise rules were violated at all silence zones except Shivaji Park, Dadar, this year. “Firecrackers were burst on the road at many locations including Fort, Dadar and Vile Parle and Santacruz. Decibel limits in silence zones located at immersion routes were flouted across the city,” said Abdulali, adding Sarvjanik mandal processions strictly adhered to the 12am time limit.
Members of the umbrella body of Ganesh mandals in the city said that they were happy with the way noise restrictions were maintained by different mandals. “Mandals stuck to all guidelines as per the recent Bombay high court order. Some mandals ended their immersions late due to heavy rain in the city,” said Naresh Dahibhavkar, president, Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvay Samiti. “As per our guidelines, mandals did not have Bollywood dance processions at any point this time.”
Officials from the state pollution control board said that violations were much lesser in Mumbai this year. “The awareness level among masses has increased and it is clearly visible from the drop in use of loudspeakers,” said Sanjay Bhuskute, public relations officer, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB). “While Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai followed noise rules, cities like Nasik violated them this year.”
After repeated attempts to reach the Mumbai police on Friday, officials were unavailable for a comment.
Meanwhile, noise levels were the highest near the Thane Municipal Corporation office at Naupada, Thane (West) at 110 dB. “Multiple firecrackers, drums and loudspeakers were the main sources,” said Dr Mahesh Bedekar, anti-noise activist. “They were allowed due to less police presence.”
Navi Mumbai, on the other hand, recorded minimal noise levels between 75 and 85 dB on Friday.
Noise levels flouted at JJ Hospital this year
Anti-noise activists, Awaaz Foundation pointed out that noise levels from various processions outside and inside JJ Hospital, Byculla, violated noise rules on Thursday.
“We received complaints from local residents that noisy processions within the hospital premises would be harmful for the health of patients,” said Sumaira Abdulali, convener, Awaaz Foundation. “The recent Bombay high court order clearly prohibited the use of loudspeakers, drums or public address systems at silence zones.”
Officials from the hospital, however, denied that rules were flouted. “Hospital authorities had peacefully directed the in-house procession till the main gate. We did not make any noise. Other processions on the main road did,” said Dr TP Lahane, dean, JJ Hospital, Byculla.
What the law says
A recent Bombay HC order last month bans not only the use of loudspeakers at silence zones but the cacophony of drums, horns, trumpets and playing of any music using sound amplifiers.
“Apart from prohibition on grant of licence to use loudspeakers or public address systems in silence zones, there is a complete ban on beating a drum and tom-tom, or blowing a horn, either musical or pressure, and trumpet, or beats and sounds, using any sound amplifiers,” read the order passed by a division bench of Justice bhay Oka and Justice Amjad Sayed.
NOISE LEVELS DURING LAST DAY OF GANESHOTSAV
This year, decibel (dB) levels coming from immersion processions were lower than last year. However, some mandals violated the 12am noise relaxation time-limit.
• Noisiest on last day of Ganeshotsav in 2016: Opera House Junction, south Mumbai at 116.4 dB
• Noisiest on last day of Ganeshotsav in 2015: Opera House Junction, south Mumbai at 123.7 dB
• Noisiest on last day of Ganeshotsav in 2014: Juhu and Dadar at 114 dB
How much noise is too much?
• Healthy hearing threshold: 0dB
• Pin dropping: 10dB
• Rustling leaves: 20dB
• Sound of river water: 40dB
• Light traffic, refrigerator: 50dB
• Conversational speech, air conditioner: 60dB
• Vacuum cleaner: 75dB
• Alarm clock: 80dB
• Discotheque/pneumatic hammer: 100dB
• Live Rock Band: 115dB
• Steel mill: 120dB
• Thunderclap, chain saw: 130dB
• Jet take-off (at 25 metres): 150dB