Noise levels at the first procession of the 10-day Mahim Fair, which began on Tuesday, touched 117.3 decibel (dB) — equivalent to the noise from a rock drilling machine. Ironically, the procession was that of the Mumbai police, which is authorised to book noise rules violators.
What’s worse: the procession went through an area that is designated as a ‘silence zone’ because of the religious shrine and a school in the vicinity. A Bombay high court order has not only banned use of loudspeakers in ‘silence zones’, but even the use of drums, horns, trumpets and playing of any music using sound amplifiers.
Police personnel, who traditionally lead the first procession, walk from the Mahim police station to the dargah, carrying offerings of sandalwood paste, perfume or attar, flowers, silver utensils and a silk chaddar to honour the Sufi saint Makhdoom Ali Mahimi on his birthday.
The loudspeakers and brass music instruments used in the procession recorded sound levels between 98dB and 117.3dB between 2.15pm and 3pm, as recorded by anti-noise campaigner Awaaz Foundation.
“It is the function of the police to take action and they are the law breakers this time,” said Sumaira Abdulali, convenor, Awaaz Foundation, which filed a complaint with the Mumbai police commissioner. “In spite of being reminded of the HC order and being the enforcement authority, the Mahim police said that it was a traditional event, therefore noise would be allowed to continue until such time as the police took their own readings on their own decibel meters.”
Awaaz Foundation, however, said there was a marginal dip in noise levels compared to previous years. Last year, the Mahim Fair registered 119.9dB during the police procession, which was higher than the 118dB recorded in 2014. Norms under the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000, state that noise levels in residential and silence zones should be between 50dB and 55dB during the day and 40dB and 45dB during the night, respectively.
Officials from the Mumbai police told HT that if norms are violated, action will be taken. “Every sandal (procession) organiser was called for a meeting and information regarding the relevant legal provisions was given,” said Pramajit Singh Dahiya, deputy commissioner of police, zone 5. “The Mahim Fair will go on till December 22. We have deployed our decibel metres, too. Irrespective of whose procession it is, if any infractions are found, legal action will be taken.”
Mahim residents said the police violated norms even after several letters were written to the state government, senior police officials and the civic body. “It is a matter of serious concern that even after repeated reminders to curtail noise levels through letters dispatched weeks ago, the police’s own procession violated noise norms,” said Farooque Dhala, resident of Mahim. “Not only was it a nuisance for residents, but even for birds and animals in the area.”
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
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
•Rock drilling machine – 117 dB
•Steel mill - 120dB
•Thunderclap, chain saw - 130dB
•Jet take-off (at 25 metres) - 150dB