Now compare that statistic to the ear-blasting 145dB we are exposed to during festivals like Ganpati, where the level is equivalent to being close to a jet engine on take-off. Or the 127dB football players were exposed to from the thousands of vuvuzelas at the World Cup this year. No wonder that players have asked for a ban on the instrument with the drone-attack sound. Argentinean football player Lionel Messi complained about the vuvuzelas after Argentina’s 1-0 victory over Nigeria. It is impossible to communicate, he said, it’s like being deaf.
Maybe Messi should try visiting Mumbai sometime to get used to that feeling of being stuck inside a vuvuzela zone, night and day, and that’s your life.
The growing racket against noise is not surprising since its pollution, like any other environmental issue, is increasingly being viewed as a human rights issue. In October 2009, the International Euronoise Conference was held in Edinburgh, with 800 delegates discussing noise pollution as an environmental concern. Here’s why:
Silent zones of zero tolerance
Unfortunately, at this point, the only solution is zero tolerance. Whatever the event — whether it’s a festival, a neighborhood party or construction near his building, if the noise generated is breaking rules, call the police station and file a complaint. The Environment Protection Act makes noise pollution a non-bailable offense and stipulates a jail term of five years and a hefty fine of Rs 100,000.
Recently, I had to look up the rules on noise when, late in the night, my windows started shaking due to the noise from a party next door. Under the Environmental Protection Act of 1986, and the Rules on Noise 1989, and Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules 2000, noise is classified as a pollutant. And just so you know, the maximum decibel levels permitted are as follows: Industrial areas 70 db (10 p.m. – 6 a.m.) to 75 dB (6 a.m. to 10 p.m.); similarly, commercial areas must stay between 55 dB and 65 dB. In residential zones it’s 45 dB to 55 dB.
Now we just need to get the message to the 22 lakh vehicles in Mumbai, the 8,000 buses, 55,000 taxis and the swarm of auto rickshaws – god bless them.