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Second day of Ganeshotsav in Mumbai noisier than entire festival last year, says NGO

Mumbai NGO Awaaz Foundation recorded noise levels between 10pm and 12am on Saturday, the first day of the festival

mumbai Updated: Aug 28, 2017 09:25 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Mumbai NGO Awaaz Foundation recorded noise levels between 10pm and 12am on Saturday, the first day of the visarjans.(HT)

Processions during the one-and-half day immersions for Ganeshotsav this year were louder than noise levels during the entire festival last year, found anti-noise campaigners.

The highest noise levels recorded were 116.8 decibels (dB) — as loud as a packed football stadium (117dB) — from devotees beating drums and metal plates opposite Sena Bhavan in Dadar, where police were stationed.

Last year, the highest noise levels were recorded during the last day (Anant Chaturdashi) at 116.4dB. The highest noise levels over the past five years were recorded in 2015 at 123.7 dB.

NGO Awaaz Foundation recorded noise levels between 10pm and 12am on Saturday night, the first day of the visarjans, when noise rules were relaxed by the district collectors.

“There has been an increase in noise levels this year. The second day of Ganeshotsav, which is comparatively quieter than the other days, is now noisier than last year’s entire festival,” said Sumaira Abdulali, convener, Awaaz Foundation.

“This is a direct result of the state’s reluctance to curb noise pollution,” she added.

The second-highest noise levels were recorded at two silence zones identified by the civic body.

The areas near Babulnath temple and Wilson College, both in Girgaum recorded 109.9dB, as loud as constant honking.

On August 10, the ministry of environment, forests and climate change amended noise rules, rendering 1,500-plus silence zones — identified by the civic body — null and void.

The state reserved the right to identify new ones.

Though the use of loudspeakers was previously banned by the Bombay high court, it is now permitted at these areas. The matter is currently being heard by a HC bench.

“Suggesting that there are no silence zones today, will send a message that all hospitals, educational institutes and courts have evaporated overnight. Citizens and institutes adversely affected the by increased noise levels need to complain directly to the chief minister and Mumbai police,” said Abdulali.

The NGO found that despite the Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Samanvay Samiti (BSGSS) — the umbrella body of Ganesh mandals — discouraging disc-jockey systems and Bollywood music, several mandals violated these orders.

According to the civic body’s report, 71,401 idols were immersed on Saturday, of which 322 were sarvajanik and 71,069, household idols.

BSGSS members said there was a spike in noise levels owing to large groups immersing household idols.

“We issued directions to mandals, but on Saturday, more assembled to immerse individual idols. Several groups moved together, which amplified noise levels. We assure the city that the next few days will be quieter,” said Naresh Dahibhavkar, president, BSGSS.

According to the Mumbai suburban district collector’s office, after the second day of the festival, noise rules will now be relaxed on the fifth day (August 29), the seventh day (August 31) and the last day (September 5). “We have set aside an extra day this year, which can be incorporated during the festival. However, we are yet to take that call,” said Deependra Singh Kushwa, Mumbai suburban collector.

Officials from the Mumbai police refused to comment on the matter.

First Published: Aug 28, 2017 09:23 IST