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Teens raise voice to reduce noise in Mumbai

mumbai Updated: Nov 14, 2016 09:18 IST
Badri Chatterjee
noise pollution

The group uses noise-measuring mobile applications .(HT Photo)

For the past three months, a group of teenagers from Kandivli have been campaigning to make Mumbai a less noisy city.

For the past three months, a group of teenagers from Kandivli have been campaigning to make Mumbai a less noisy city.

Through their campaign to curb unnecessary honking at traffic junctions in the suburbs, the college students have convinced more than 100 residents from their housing society to start a no-honking drive.

Traffic junctions in India have no rules on permissible sound levels regarding honking or vehicular noise. Horns in Mumbai emanate noise as high as 110 decibels (dB) – equal to a live rock band. This is significantly above the safe limit suggested by the World Health Organisation that says that long-term exposure to noise levels from 85db to 90db can lead to hearing loss.

The Central Pollution Control Board declared Mumbai the noisiest city in India earlier this year, and cited reckless honking as one of its reasons

Ananya Shah, 17, an arts student from St Xavier’s College, along with her friends and relatives, aged between 16 and 20, have reached out to 10,000 automobile drivers across traffic junctions in Kandivli, such as SV Road — next to a hospital — MG Road and Poisar, as well as a traffic junction in Ghatkopar, telling commuters about the honking and its impact on health.

The group uses noise-measuring mobile applications to identify and project noise levels to commuters. It displays and noise rules and their violations side-by-side at every traffic junction.

“I noticed my father [Maulik Shah], who never honked, even if it meant being patient and waiting for traffic to clear,” said Shah. “I visited a few European countries, where I realised that they honk to alert other commuters only when necessary,” she added.

Shah began raising awareness among commuters through a community project that garnered support from local authorities. “I set out with one goal in mind – to have a honk-free Mumbai. I began the campaign, ‘Sshh...No Honking’,” she said.

Shah and six friends began their campaign on September 25. They were supported by 110 volunteers of different age groups, including children and senior citizens, who stood at a junction at SV Road holding placards and banners for two hours. They sensitised more than 5,000 commuters and distributed 1,000 anti-honking stickers.

Simultaneously, 35 teenagers and residents carried out a similar drive at a Ghatkopar traffic junction. “ It was evident that the problem affected everybody,” said Mausam Nagba, 17, a student who began the drive.

During October, similar drives were conducted at other traffic junctions in the area. The group drew attention from the local MLA and officials from the traffic department.

“The spirit of the teenagers was inspiring enough for me to join them during two of their drives. The main problem is impatience and citizens need to understand this,” said Yogesh Sagar, BJP MLA and legislator. “There needs to be similar citizen movements across Mumbai. Digital display boards need to identify decibel levels alongside permissible limits at busy traffic junctions,” he said.