Pune’s Initiative to Curb Rising Noise Levels this Festive Season

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Pune, October 01: As noise levels rise to frightening levels in Pune, the city authorities decided to call for a ‘No Horn Day’ last month. Predictably, it was a dismal failure.

Earlier this year, the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) reported that noise pollution was increasing in India. As opposed to World Health Organisation’s set standard of 45dB, most Indian metropolitan cities record an average noise level of more than 90dB.

The festive seasons may look exciting and colourful, but blaring speakers and loud firecrackers disturb both the young and the old.

During Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations, even the police find themselves helpless as they are unable to stop the nuisance created by dhol groups and loudspeakers blaring music as most organising committees have permits to conduct programmes till midnight.  “The actual aarti lasts for five to ten minutes. After that it’s just blasting Bollywood music playing over loudspeakers till midnight or even after,” says Vishal (name changed), a resident at Pune Cantonment.

Noise pollution is known to cause many physical impairments including several psychological distress.  

According to the Sovereign Health of California, a 2003 study showed that exposure to excessive levels of noise can lead to impairment of complex mental tasks that rely on memory, like speaking and reading. It can also induce annoyance which is expressed through fear, anger and the belief of harm coming onto oneself. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is also a widespread effect of higher sonic stimuli.

The Pune Municipal Corporation with the Pune Police has set up a citizen’s grievance redressal centre following the Bombay High Court’s order to provide a platform for noise pollution complaints. An online service of the same has also been made available.

Manaswini, a resident of Aundh, says, “My society has rules and timings for the programmes and so most of our complaints go to the board of our society. I never had to lodge an official complaint.”

Noise levels are usually higher during Diwali. In the Laxmi Road area of Pune, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board reported a recorded average of 75.5 decibels during the first day of Ganesh Chaturthi in 2015 as opposed to the average noise levels of 79 decibels recorded during the first day of Diwali in 2016.

Noise levels are feared to rise next month during Diwali. A comprehensive report on the effectiveness of the redressal committee is expected after Diwali.

 

Sucharita Ganguly and Subhiksha Manoj

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