Apart from the misery of being stuck in a traffic snarl, it is the incessant traffic noise in the city that is turning into a major problem for citizens. But authorities claim citizen apathy and legal loopholes are to be blamed for the current scenario.
“People in Mumbai honk even when the signal is red. How do you expect the traffic policemen to keep such noise in check? People should change their attitude,” said Vivek Phansalkar, joint commissioner of police (traffic).
The joint commissioner claimed that unnecessary honking and the use of pressure musical horns created most noise in traffic, and actions by the traffic police were insufficient to control the noise. “The only way to ensure that vehicles do not create too much noise is to ban the manufacture of loud horns,” said Phansalkar.
However, Mumbai, like the rest of Maharashtra, seems to be caught in a paradox. While the traffic department maintains that manufacture of loud horns should be banned in order to check traffic noise, the registering authorities under the transport commissioner office claim that no sound limits have been prescribed by the Central government so far with respect to motor vehicles.
“In March 2011, we had sent a letter to the Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways, mentioning the necessity for fixing standards for sound signals and sirens, so that we can enforce norms under Rule 119 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989,” said an official from the transport commissioner office. “But we haven’t received a response yet, and we thus do not have the means to restrict the manufacture of loud horns.”
“Many of our officers complain of hearing problems due to prolonged exposure to the noise on roads,” said Phansalkar. “Despite initiatives and slogans by our department, people don’t pay heed to noise rules on the roads,” he said.
The city’s traffic police had organised a ‘No Honking Day’ in 2008 on the occasion of World Health Day to create awareness about the ill-effect of honking.