You think Linking Road at Bandra (West), Khar (West) and Santacruz (West) are noisy? But the traffic police do not. They, in fact, believe that these areas are noise pollution-free.
For more than a year since the H West ward got 58 silence zones demarcated, the traffic police has neither received a complaint about silence zone violations nor found a single offender. Deputy Commissioner of Police Traffic (Suburban) A.M. Bhitre declined to comment on the issue.
The Bombay High Court had directed the municipal corporation to demarcate 1,200 ‘silence zones’ in the city. These are areas that fall within 100 metres of educational and religious institutions. Noise pollution norms prohibit the use of horns, loudspeakers, musical instruments and bursting of crackers in silence zones.
A Right to Information (RTI) query by activist Raja Bunch revealed that despite a staff of 45 constables and five officers, the Bandra traffic police division has not found any offender, such as drivers who honk in 58 silence zones.
Bunch, who is a teacher at St Elias High School at Khar, said: “There were times when there used to be such incessant honking that I found it difficult to teach. There is also a church in the area.”
Sumaira Abdulali from Awaaz Foundation, whose
public interest litigation had led to demarcation of silence zones in the city, felt that the “lack of implementation reflected a lack of will to implement”.
“The police don’t need complaints to swing into action. The larger question is whether they have the will to implement silence zone norms,” she said.
Bandra resident Abdulali claimed she has recorded sound levels in the area reaching up to 90 decibels, even in silence zones. “The noise levels near Lilavati Hospital, a silence zone, is maddening with people honking all the time,” added Abdulali.
Anandini Thakoor of the Khar Residents Association agreed that the RTI findings point to a greater malaise.
“The implementation of noise control norms has fallen off the radar of the traffic authorities. It seems that it assumes a very low priority for them or else the implementation wouldn’t have been as dismal,” Thakoor said.