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Noise norms not practical, HC sends notice to green ministry

Court finds human voice louder than prescribed level; asks MoEF to reply within 3 weeks.

mumbai Updated: Mar 22, 2012 01:25 IST
Kanchan Chaudhari
Kanchan Chaudhari
Hindustan Times

The noise standards prescribed by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) are “unreasonably low”, feels the Bombay high court. On Wednesday, a division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice Ranjit More issued a notice to the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) regarding the issue.

The CPCB has prescribed 55 decibels (dB) and 45dB as maximum permissible noise level during the day and night respectively. The permissible limits for a silence zone are 50dB and 40dB respectively, whereas it is higher for commercial and industrial areas. However, the court found that a human talking softly showed a level of 50dB on the decibel meter. “The decibel level of 45dB (for night in residential zone) appears to be unreasonably low,” the judges said.

The notice to the ministry was issued on a petition filed by city-based Indian Education Society, which administers 65 schools across the state and four colleges in the city.

The education society had approached the court challenging the civic body’s decision to declare one of their schools, Raja Shivaji Vidyasankul in Dadar, as a silence zone.

Counsel Raju Subramaniam pointed out that the school itself could not be declared as a silence zone. He also stressed that the noise standards were unreasonable.

The senior advocate cited numerous examples in support pointing out that it was impossible to adhere to the norms even if somebody tried his best.

Subramaniam further argued that it would be impossible for a school to admit students in kindergarten and primary school if the school was to adhere to the norms for a silence or residential zone.

Sumaira Abdulali, founding member of NGO Awaaz Foundation, contested the claim stating that loud noise created several health-related issues and the norms were fixed taking into consideration that Indians were exposed to high level of noise.

The judges, however, used a decibel meter available in the court and found that though Abdulali spoke in a soft voice, the meter showed the decibel level of 50dB. They issued notice to the MoEF expressing doubt about practical enforcement of the noise norms and gave them three weeks to respond to the notice.

First Published: Mar 22, 2012 01:23 IST