MumbaiIn a first, Maharashtra’s pollution control board will be issuing a policy to control traffic and construction noise across the state. The policy is in the drafting stage and will be released in August, said officials. The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) is currently carrying out a noise mapping study in Mumbai and other districts which will be completed in June. Once the results from the study are available, MPCB will issue directions to various government bodies and the police to reduce noise pollution. “There is an extensive noise mapping exercise underway across Mumbai and similarly at cities such as Thane, Navi Mumbai, Pune, Nasik, Nagpur, Aurangabad and a few other major cities. We are mapping noise levels on a working day and non-working day,” said P Anbalagan, member secretary, MPCB. “Once the data is collated, we will identify the noisiest locations on the basis of – residential, commercial, industrial and silence zones, and which areas are exposed to maximum noise coming from traffic or construction.” Traffic and construction noise are the top sources of noise pollution in Mumbai with decibel levels as high as 110 dB (as loud as concert) and 107 dB (as loud as a power saw). According to World Health Organisation (WHO), noise levels are acceptable to a limit of 70dB to the human ear and continuous exposure to higher decibel levels more than 70dB can lead to hearing loss.How noise pollution affects your healthAnnoyanceAggressionHypertensionIncrease in blood pressureHigh-stress levelsHearing lossSleep disturbanceDepressionPanic attacks(Source: Dr Ashwini Kumar Mehta, ear-nose-throat (ENT) specialist, Seven Hills Health Hospital in Andheri)Anbalagan added that once the blueprint of the noise problems in the city was ready, municipal corporations, district collectors, police, agencies like the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) etc. will be issued directives to install noise abatement measures. “Noise reducing measures such as developing adequate green cover, sound-barriers and setting up acrylic sheets will be suggested at noisy traffic junctions, all silence zones such as schools and hospitals, and construction sites in the city,” he said. Experts said that citizens need to be cautious about the exact guidelines of the policy. “There have been a number of policy statements from the state government diluting noise rules in various locations in the past,” said Sumaira Abdulali, convener, Awaaz Foundation. “I hope the policy makes noise rules more stringent and the implementation better. So long as the intention is to recognise that noise is a serious health problem, activists will be all for it.” Meanwhile, anti-noise activists welcomed the move calling it a positive development. “After introducing the issue of noise pollution in Mumbai as early as 1984, it is good to know that at least three decades later a policy is being charted out to control the problem,” said Yeshwant Oke, who registered the first case in Mumbai against noise pollution at the Bombay High Court. “I am optimistic that society is moving in the right direction. Authorities who had been docile all this while are gradually taking cognisance of the issue.”Dr Mahesh Bedekar, an anti-noise campaigner from Thane, said the state was forced to act on noise pollution. “Pressure from citizens, courts, activists and media has played a huge role in making this a reality. The state government should have done this long ago but it has taken over two decades to make this pertinent issue across Maharashtra,” he said. “Now, the government needs to ensure noise is reduced and citizens need not go to the courts to highlight the smallest of issues.”Noise rulesAccording to Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000, residential and silence zones — areas around schools, hospitals and religious shrines — should have a maximum noise level of 55dB and 50dB in the day and 45dB and 40dB at night.