After years of complaints by citizens living near the airport about the deafening noise, the government has decided to start monitoring airport noise levels.
Last week, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued a directive asking airport operators to set up noise monitoring terminals (NMTs) next to runways and residential areas around the airport that will record noise around the clock and segregate it in different time slots.
“The segregation will tell us which part of the day is the noisiest,” said a DGCA official.
The DGCA particularly wants mobile NMTs in pockets that fall directly below the take-off and landing paths.
The device can also differentiate aircraft sounds from other vehicular noise.
In addition to identifying densely-populated pockets around airports, the NMTs will collate information on silent zones: hospitals, schools and religious places, said the DGCA.
Activists were cautiously optimistic. “Fresh data on noise pollution is welcome, but we will have to see if it is ultimately useful in mitigating the problem,” said Sumaira Abdullali, convener of city-based NGO Awaaz Foundation.
She added that the data would be useful for planning upcoming airports and clearing helipads within city limits.
Last year, Delhi airport brought down noise levels of night-time flights to 95 decibels from 105 decibels after a residents' body filed a PIL. City anti-noise campaigners claim the problem is worse in Mumbai. “Vile Parle, Kurla, Powai and Andheri are affected by noise from the airport,” said a local corporator.
The city airport recently stopped flight announcements to reduce noise inside terminals.