Maharashtra bans 'Horn OK Please' on vehicles to cut down noise
The Maharashtra transport department has issued a circular banning the phrase 'Horn OK Please' on the rear of commercial vehicles across the state.
The display of the phrase is a violation of Section 134 (1) of the Maharashtra Motor Vehicle Rules, according to the circular. "It encourages people to honk every time you pass a truck or tempo. It sends a wrong message to citizens," the circular, released on Thursday, said.
Nationwide, the messages "Horn OK Please" or "Blow Horn" are colourfully painted on the back of most trucks and lorries, encouraging drivers to make their presence audibly known as they overtake.
Non-stop beeping has become the dominant soundtrack to the state, especially its capital Mumbai, as clattering rickshaws, public buses, clapped-out taxis, weaving motorbikes and private cars fight for space on the traffic-clogged roads.
"People blow their horns just for no sake," Jayraj Salgaonkar, who with a group of engineers has developed the 'Oren horn usage meter', told AFP last year. The name 'Oren' is derived from local pronunciation of the word 'horn'.
Salgaonkar's goal may sound ambitious in a country where honking is so pervasive that foreign car makers, such as Audi and Volkswagen, fit their Indian vehicles with stronger, longer-life horns.
There are now about 900,000 cars, 10,000 buses and two million two-wheelers plying the roads of the financial capital with a population of some 12 million, according to local transport expert Ashok Datar.
Their horns are not just an annoyance, say anti-noise crusaders, who warn that honking is taking a worrying toll on the health of city-dwellers.
"In hospitals I know people who have suffered very severely even in intensive care units because of the noise (outside)," said Sumaira Abdulali, founder of the Awaaz Foundation which campaigns against noise pollution.
"At our end, the traffic police have also been trying to educate people so that they use their horns less. We have tied up with NGOs and other groups for this purpose," Milind Bharambe, joint CP (traffic), Mumbai told The Indian Express.
She said sound levels in busy parts of Mumbai continuously exceed 85 decibels, breaking the limits recommended by health experts and contributing to high blood pressure, hearing loss and heart disease.
"A lot of people in Mumbai are suffering these things and the medical costs are quite high. Cutting down noise would cost much less," she said.
Mumbai residents are not alone in their quest for a quieter life.
In the capital New Delhi, a group of campaigners takes to the streets several times a month, plastering cars with "Do Not Honk!" stickers.
In southern Bangalore, residents last year launched an "I Won't Honk Campaign", backed by Indian cricketer Rahul Dravid, which aimed to get drivers pledging not to use their horns unless completely necessary.