Dreamer's Blog

Noise Pollution – “How much we ignore it”

Posted on: April 17, 2011

Noise pollution – it’s strange to think how much it affects every one of us whether rich or poor; young or old; men or women; drivers or pedestrian or Minster or a worker; there is hardly any escape from such ubiquitous noise pollution. Noise pollution is making NOIDA/Delhi and any other Metros audibly intolerable places to live in. I am very sure that our brethrens dwellers from various other urban and semi-urban cities worldwide would also have the similar experiences and predicament to narrate. Noise pollution in our country is emerging as a major threat not only to individual health but also to social harmony and well-being and is likely to have both economic and societal consequences.

Pause and ponder how much we IGNORE IT.

A decade ago, on 14th February 2000, the Union ministry for environment and forests (MoEF) enacted the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, but was hardly ever holistically implemented. The Act recognizes that there is “increasing ambient noise levels in public places from various sources, inter alia, industrial activity, construction activity, generator sets, loudspeakers, public address systems, music systems, vehicular horns and other mechanical devices” and further states that these have “deleterious effects on human health and the psychological well-being of the people”. Consequently, the government also considered it “necessary to regulate and control noise producing and generating sources with the objective of maintaining the ambient air quality standards in respect of noise”. As per this Act; the ambient air quality standards in respect of noise for different areas/zones have been specified in the box.
Ambient Air Quality Standards in respect of Noise

Area Code Category of Areas/ Zone Limits in dB(A) Leq *

Day Time Night Time
(A) Industrial Area 75 70
(B) Commercial Area 65 55
(C) Residential Area 55 45
(D) Silence Zone 50 40
1. Day time shall mean from 6.00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m.
2. Night time shall mean from 10.00 p.m. to 6.00 a.m.
3. “Silence zone” is defined as an area comprising not less than 100 metres around hospitals, educational institutions and courts. The silence zones are zones which are declared as such by the competent authority.
4. Mixed categories of areas may be declared as one of the four above mentioned categories by the competent authority.

* dB(A) Leq denotes the time weighted average of the level of sound in decibels on scale A which is relatable to human hearing.

A – “Decibel” is a unit in which noise is measured.

“A”, in dB(A) Leq denotes the frequency weighting in the measurement of noise and corresponds to frequency response characteristics of the human ear.
Leq : It is an energy mean of the noise level, over a specified period.

Act empowers State Governments to take measures for abatement of noise including noise emanating from vehicular movements and ensure that the existing noise levels do not exceed the ambient air quality standards specified under these rules. The authority has been made responsible for the enforcement of noise pollution control measures and the due compliance of the ambient air quality standards in respect of noise. The law also empowers the local police station officer to take action whenever complaints are received. It is, however, not often common public is compelled to come forward to approach the police.

The problem of noise pollution act presently is more concerned with how it impacts public well-being, rather than how it affects the economics. However, there has been a study by OECD, an international organization helping governments tackle the economic, social and governance challenges of a globalised economy, which reports on the social costs from transport noise:

• Lower property values.
• Health care costs can spiral when dealing with loss of sleep, hearing problems or stress.
• Affecting one’s work income due to poor concentration, communication difficulties or fatigue due to insufficient rest.

Ever since the liberalization of 1991, the economic activities in the country have grown at pace, which has also accelerated the growth of automobile, and maintains at double digit figures. The number of vehicle on the road have increased exponentially and contributing to intolerable noise pollution, if left uncontrolled will grow monstrously beyond the control and our society will have to pay dearly.

The decibel levels the noise pollution has already reached levels which doesn’t need any substantiations; the two video clippings of traffic on a road having a hospital and two schools – which comes under “Silence Zone”; uploaded at the web site ‘Youtube’ at the following URLs, speaks volumes:

It’s recently, during March 2011, MoEF has initiated an action of monitoring the noise levels in various cities and 35 numbers of real time ambient noise monitoring systems (five each in seven cities of India, viz., Delhi, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore) have been installed in phase – I and during phase – II another 35 will be installed in this year [2011] in the same seven cities. The phase – III; 90 more monitoring stations in 25 cities, are scheduled for installation next year.

The statistically relevant result will take few more years to initiate a policy decision and the real implementation will hopefully take another few more years and surely another decade will elapse, by that time some of us will definitely lying peacefully under the grave. It is a well known fact that almost (100%) of private buses, CVs, SUVs, etc., gets fitted with pressure horns immediately on taking deliveries. A simple conventional noise monitoring methods can immediately predict existing noise levels for taking an immediate prudent strong willed decision to initiate administrative actions for banning of manufacture, supply/selling, and installation of nuisance making horns and strong implementation thereafter.

It is thus imperative from the foregoing that the individual estrangement caused by the noise pollution can have negative and harmful societal and economic consequences. It’s high time that governments should take immediate steps to completely ban manufacture, supply and installation of Pressure Horns in all types of motor vehicle to mitigate the nuisance of Noise Pollution and the laws are implemented as strictly as air pollution norms and ban of plastic bags are being implemented.

Furthermore, as a long term solutions awareness programmes should be launched country wide, looping in the NGOs, media, schools & colleges and others to sensitize the public on the problems of vehicular and all other sources of noise pollution and take them out from syndrome of habitual honking and noise making.

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2 Responses to "Noise Pollution – “How much we ignore it”"

The Senate has unanimously approved the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act, which requires:
…minimum level of sound emitted from a motor vehicle that is necessary to provide blind and other pedestrians with the information needed to reasonably detect a nearby electric or hybrid vehicle operating at or below the cross-over speed http://www.engadget.com/2010/12/13/senate-approves-pedestrian-safety-enhancement-act-ensures-a-fut?icid=sphere_wpcom_tagsidebar/

The noise levels in Bangalore city’s busy junctions during peak hours are alarming. While the permissible level is 65 decibels to 70 decibels, it is about 105 decibels on MG Road and Marathahalli junction and 110 decibels at Kempegowda bus stand, says a recent study carried out by Rajan’s Speech and Hearing Centre.

Noise pollution is emerging as a major threat not only to individual’s health but also to social harmony and well-being and has both economic and societal consequences. It is high time that government should take immediate steps to mitigate the nuisance of Noise Pollution and the laws are implemented as strictly as air pollution norms and ban of plastic bags are being implemented.


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