TODAY -

Adding noise pollution by communities

Kamal Baruah *

Traffic condition in Imphal City in August 2016
Traffic condition in Imphal City in August 2016 :: Pix - TSE



As per supreme court guidelines 2005, a loud speaker or a public address system are not permitted at night between 10.00 p.m. to 6.00 a.m. except in closed premises for communication within, e.g. auditorium, conference room, community halls and banquet halls. Even written permission is to be obtained from the authority for during day time also.

Besides, there is silence zone area of 100 meters around hospitals, educational institutions and courts. The concerned authority is held responsible for enforcement of noise pollution levels in any area/zone for maintaining air ambient air quality standards.

The question involved is that in a country having multiple religions and numerous communities can claim right to adding noise pollution on the ground of religion and festivals? No religion preaches that prayers are required to be performed through voice amplifiers or by beating of drums. Senior citizens complain about late night celebration of our festivals where electronic devices and shrieking loudspeakers are all the rage.

Besides there are political processions, religious/cultural events and rallies are occasions for using loudspeakers without inhibition. And in South India, fan club of film fraternity pumps up the music throughout the day.

Even silence zones in the city are not safe any longer. Scientists concur the largest source are uncontrolled loud honking and the noise of heavy vehicles. Generators and heavy construction equipment works are adding to the cacophony.

As per the CPCB- Central Pollution Control Board study, "maximum violations of prescribed limits were observed in Mumbai, followed by Lucknow, Hyderabad, Delhi and Chennai." Nowadays the operation of airports results in environmental impacts associated with high levels of different noise. Jet engines create most noise around a radius of 16 km.

Noise pollution is now linked to many ailments – from irreversible hearing loss to anxiety attacks to hypertension and heart disease. The situation is so bad in cities that ENT specialists now say a 20dB loss in hearing among urbanites is "normal". People don't realise that noise is the hidden enemy of man. It affects our entire body.

But people adjust to living next to a railway station despite the disturbance caused by loud announcements and honking. Nowadays noise is considered as a component of environmental pol­lution having a potential to cause hazards to human health.

We live in a civilised society and should do things right that is meant to connect people. Everybody entitled to enjoy their natural right of sleeping in a peaceful atmosphere. Aged, sick, people afflicted with psychic disturbances as well as children up to 6 years of age are considered to be very sensible to noise. Their rights are also required to be honoured.

Under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, rules for noise pollution level are framed for ambient air quality standards of noise for different areas/zones. But a person may make complaint, if the noise level exceeds by 10 dB(A) against any area/zone. Enjoyment of one's rights must be consistent with the enjoyment of rights of others.

Also Fundamental Right of a person may have to co-exist in harmony. However, a significant noise reduction may be achieved using measures like minimizing traffic, installing noise and vegetation barriers and using sound-proof glass for windows at home.

Because of urbanization/industrialization, the noise pollution might be exceeding permissible limits but that should not be a ground for permitting others to increase by beating drums or by use of voice amplifier loudspeakers.

Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 are required to be enforced now. There is a lack of awareness among the citizens as well as the Implementation Authorities about the Rules or its duty to implement. We see no reason why even decade old judgement cannot be implemented. Will action be initiated against the organisers of the concerned place?

Even there is a power to prohibit continuance of vocal or instrumental music sound. So police stopped Pandit Jasaraj's late night show in Pune in 2002. And there is a scope for controlling pollution by promoting education and research.

Stringent laws like Motor Vehicle Act of India should be implemented to control noise pollution. Public awareness should be created to operate loudspeaker/public address system at threshold intensity so that the noise level should not be hazardous to living organisms.


* Kamal Baruah wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on May 06, 2017.


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