The state pollution control board will monitor noise levels at the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited’s (MMRCL) ongoing Metro III project construction site at Marol, Andheri (East), at night.
The move comes a week after non government organisation Watchdog Foundation filed a criminal complaint against officers from MMRCL and a private developer in the metropolitan magistrate court of Andheri, for flouting noise rules in a residential area through construction of the Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro-III underground corridor in the municipal playground area in Marol.
The hearing is scheduled on February 22.
“We have decided to take suo motu action after receiving the complaint and check if noise rules are being flouted at night,” said a senior official from the Mahrashtra Pollution Control Board. “While we still are not clear about what environment clearance guidelines have been issued to MMRCL, high noise levels in residential areas during the night is a violation of rules. If there is one, we will be issuing a notice to MMRCL.”
On Sunday night, Watchdog Foundation carried out their own noise measurement at the site and alleged that noise levels were as loud as 92 decibels (dB) from rock drilling machines, which is as loud as standing next to a newspaper press.
Noise standards, as laid down under the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000, does not permit noise levels to go beyond 55dB and 50dB during the day and 45dB and 40dB during the night, respectively, in residential and silence zones . Additionally, according to the Environment Protection Act, 1986, and the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000, noise from construction activities, use of loudspeakers or public address systems is banned between 10pm and 6am, except 15 days in a year, mostly festivals.
“The construction goes on round the clock and is driving residents to spend sleepless nights,” said Godfrey Pimenta, a trustee, Watchdog Foundation. “It is a good development that the pollution board has taken cognisance of the issue but they have to enforce the law during the construction scrupulously.”
Last June, the civic body changed the time frame allotted for all construction activities in the city through permissions to builders and developers to work an extra four hours every day. The time frame of all construction activities was also changed from 7am-7pm to 6am-10pm, highlighting ‘ease of doing business’.
MMRCL officials said that they will let the law take its course. “We will handle the matter legally and we will take necessary permissions if there is an issue with our constructions,” said R Ramana, executive director (planning), MMRCL.
Noise standards as laid down in Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000.
Category of area
Day time limit (in dB) (6.30am to 8.30pm) Night time limit (in dB) (8.30pm – 6.30am)
Residential area 55 45
Silence zone 50 40
Average noise levels from construction twice the permissible limits in Mumbai
According to a noise monitoring survey carried out across Mumbai periodically from 2011 to 2015 by non-profit Awaaz Foundation, construction activities that included noise from stone-crushing machines, power generators, use of hammers and drilling equipment was listed as one of the top sources of noise in the city.
Average decibel (dB) levels during construction activities was found to be 107dB, as against the safety limit of 55dB during the day and 45dB at night for residential zones, and 50dB during the day and 40dB at night for Silence zones, as per Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000.
Impact on health
Noise pollution can cause:
• Increase in blood pressure
• High-stress levels
• Hearing loss
• Sleep disturbance
• Panic attacks
If decibel levels are between the range of 80dB and 90dB over a period of time, people can develop
• Damage to nerves
• Hearing loss or tinnitus, a recurring buzzing sound produced in the ear
(Source: Dr Ashwini Kumar Mehta, ear-nose-throat (ENT) specialist, Seven Hills Health Hospital in Andheri)