The state government needs to show more will when it comes to implementing rules pertaining to noise and it needs to start treating noise pollution as a public health issue, said activists, as the city starts celebrating Navratri with song, dance and a lot of noise.
On Tuesday, the first day of Navratri, HT reporters and two anti-noise activists, Sudhir Badami and Dr Sujata Rao, recorded noise levels at six Dandiya venues in Kandivli, Borivli and Ghatkopar found that at all spots the noise levels crossed permissible limits, and at times, touched 110 decibels (dB).
Experts believe not much will change unless the state takes a tough stand. “The government should work towards toning down loud festival celebrations. The 10pm deadline on the use of loudspeakers was an effective tool that brought some relief. But with festivals getting louder, we need innovative steps from the government, such as making the use of distributed sound systems compulsory,” said Badami, a civil engineer and anti-noise activist. “Distributed sound systems will help maintain the spirit of the celebrations while controlling noise levels.”
Dr Sujata Rao, who is part of the Association of Medical Consultants and an anti-noise campaigner, said: “Noise has become an addiction, and celebrating festivals with noise has become a way of life. Its health hazards are ignored and noise rules are flouted. The rules are in place, but the lawmakers seem to be reluctant to implement it.”
‘We associate festivities with cacophony’
Mumbai: We have come a long way since recognising noise as an irritant, then classifying it as a pollutant and now we should have no hesitation to include it in the list of addictions.
We associate noise with celebrations. It is just not socially correct to crib about the harsh effects of noise; you are immediately met with a sneer.
The decibel (measure of intensity of sound) level of sound plays strange games as each 10-decibel increase represents a tenfold increase in noise intensity. Thus, 80 decibels is 1 million times more intense than 20 and sounds 64 times as loud.
Exposure to sound of 85dB for eight hours consistently results in noise related sensori-neural deafness, which is irreversible hearing loss. Further, noise above 90 db cannot be tolerated beyond a few minutes.
Now consider this – the noise levels on a highway or any street (religious loudspeakers, programs of various mandals, parties, public conventions, private celebrations etc) in Mumbai cross 70 -80 db routinely. During celebrations, this ambient level of noise crosses 100 db lasting for a minimum of four-six hours.
Noise Rules were framed after persistent representation of these facts by Dr Yeshwant Oke who filed a PIL along with AMC (Association of Medical Consultants, Mumbai) in the Bombay high court.
There is absolutely no deterrent to a violator because our police find it difficult to apprehend the law –makers as law offenders. The current festival as well as the last festival has created complete confusion about the permissible hours of use of loudspeakers/traditional instruments causing general flouting of noise levels.
Unless there is fear in the mind of offenders, we as a society will continue to associate cacophony as a way of celebrating occasions. -- Dr Sujata Rao