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Noisiest city in state has no silence zones

Ulhasnagar was named the most noisy city in the whole of Maharashtra

mumbai Updated: Aug 09, 2018 00:31 IST
Sajana Nambiar
Sajana Nambiar
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Maharashtra,Ulhasnagar
Ulhasnagar was named the most noisy city in the whole of Maharashtra(HT Photo)

Ulhasnagar

At 2am, music blares loudly from Gol Maidan. There are crackers bursting too. Honking from the roads add to the cacophony.

This is a common noise pollution in Ulhasnagar, a town 58km away from Mumbai.

Continuous vehicular movement and late night weddings and functions are the major causes of noise pollution, say experts.

Little wonder then that Ulhasnagar was found to be the noisiest place in the state in a survey conducted by National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI).

And the authorities are not bothered.

The complaints by residents and activists, demanding noise regulation for the past 10 years, have fallen on deaf ears.

“The roads in Ulhasnagar are narrow and vehicles many. Motorists get stuck in traffic and start honking,” said Sarita Harchandhani, an expert from Ulhasnagar, founder of Hirali Foundation, which has been fighting against noise pollution in the city since 2011.

The study finding has highlighted the failure of the civic authority in curbing noise pollution despite of several warnings given by the Bombay high court in the past five years.

This is evident as the Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation does not have a separate environment department.

“This is shocking as there are no officials meant to look after any kind of pollution. There are no silence zones or no-honking zones,” added Harchandhani.

The UMC commissioner Ganesh Patil claims that there more than 50 silence zones in the city. “There are silent zones across the city. We have put up boards. The only problem is there is a lack of awareness among the public. The city’s population is increasing but its area remains the same,” said Patil.

Hirali Foundation filed a petition against noise pollution in the Bombay high court in 2011. In 2016, the high court had passed an order to make sure noise pollution is controlled and loudspeakers are not allowed after 10pm.

“Despite the order, the civic body did not take any steps to stop noise pollution. The event organisers get permissions from the civic body to hold functions anytime — at 4am and even at 11pm,” said Harchandhani.

She added, “One of the major reasons why the city is not complying with the sound norms is the negligence from the authorities.”

The Foundation measured noise level from 2011 to 2015 in the city. The study recorded around 72-80 dB in the morning and around 89-95 dB at night.

Sometimes, the noise level touches 101 dB because of loudspeakers and bursting of crackers.

In 2016-17, NEERI was appointed by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board to map noise levels.

As per NEERI, the noise level at night on weekends in Ulhasnagar was recorded at 86.7 dB. During daytime on weekdays, Ulhasnagar was found to be the noisiest, with maximum noise at 91.4 dB. The permitted noise level in a residential area during day is 55dB and at night is 45dB.

Ulhasnagar is densely populated with 7 lakh. The Foundation alleged commercial units and shops are open till late. Ulhasnagar is a centre for the production of rayon silk, dyes, ready-made garments, electrical appliances and confectionaries.

There is a continuous traffic flow across the city which leads to continuous honking.

Marriages and other ceremonies are held at night and the celebrations, usually with DJ, continue till 3am.

Gol Maidan is a popular place to host big and small events. The other places which have recorded the high noise levels are Birla Gate, Nehru Chowk and Netaji Chowk.

As per the study, honking is the major cause of noise pollution in the city.

“Every house has two to three vehicles. The roads have become congested. Youngsters honk continuously while riding on bikes. I think there is a need to train people on how to ride without honking,” said Geeta Lalwani, 35, a resident of Nehru Chowk, Ulhasnagar.

Ulhasnagar deputy commissioner of police Ankit Goyal said that they have plans to appoint a consultant to study noise-related issues.

“We have been registering cases against those using loudspeakers late at night. However, we cannot do much to curb honking. The civic body should impose silent and non-honking zones,” said Goyal, adding that they would conduct awareness programmes for residents.

Shashikant Dayma, founder of NGO Waldhuni Biradri, said, “The city’s population might have reached to 10 lakhs although the civic body says it is 7 lakhs. The city has not expanded beyond its 13 sq km. The streets are narrow. Shops, commercial complexes and industries have mushroomed across the city.”

The vehicle count in Ulhasnagar has seen an increase of around 12 per cent in 2017-2018. The city now has 82,942 vehicles.

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About Ulhasnagar

Around 54 % of the total area of Ulhasnagar is residential area and 21% is occupied by the urban poor living in slums. Nine per cent of the area is used for commercial use.

Industries cover 7.78 % area of the city, educational institutions, religious places, government offices and hospitals cover 6.3 % of the city. The remaining are the open spaces in the city that includes grounds, green spaces and gardens.

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Noisiest in the country

In 2017, Jeedimetla in Hyderabad was the noisiest and Mumbai’s Wadala was the second noisiest among 70 locations across seven major cities in the country, in a survey conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

Wadala recorded 102 decibels (dB) at night, which is as loud as a home stereo system played at maximum volume, and 97 dB during the day as loud as a hair dryer.

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SOUND CHECK

Gol Maidan: The civic body’s open ground is let out for public meetings and other functions. It has food stalls and people visit this place till midnight.

Night: 10 pm to 2am (above 90 dB)

Morning: Between 80 dB and 85 dB

The noise level crosses 100 dB at night hours

Nehru Chowk: It is a commercial space of the city with shops operating till midnight.

Night: 10pm to 2am (above 90 dB)

Morning: Between 80 dB - 85 dB

Netaji Chowk: A narrow lane connects the chowk which has a continuous traffic flow. Vehicular honking is reported here as the roads are narrow and traffic jams are common. There are several shops located at both sides of this chowk.

Night: 10pm to 2am (above 90 dB)

Morning: Between 80 dB and 85 dB

First Published: Aug 09, 2018 00:31 IST