Noise Pollution in India
Noise pollution is one of the major environmental concerns in India today and sadly many are unaware of the hazards it can cause. It is very unfortunate that we all are subjected to some form of loud noises for a considerable amount of time, during the day. It is a daily dilemma to bear with the unnecessary havoc created by the blowing of horns on the roads, the madness created by the loudspeakers, the festive-time expression of happiness, any procession being carried through the streets, the too much of background scores of Indian melodramatic serials creating a mess in almost every household and innumerable other sources we can’t even think of. It seems like people have a major perception about happiness which they think, can better be expressed by creating loud noises. Even a child-birth in rural areas is informed by the crackling sounds created by kitchen utensils.
Now-a-days, apart from Diwali, whether it is a marriage or it is about being winning any match,
bursting loud crackers has become a norm. Unless you don’t blow away the ear-drums, you are not happy.
Serious Health Issues led by Noise Pollution
Noise pollution today, has become a major problem in India that has led to serious health threats like hearing loss or impairedness, increasing stress levels, behavioral and mental problems, insomnia, heart ailments, hypertension and many more. Once the safe levels are crossed, the noise becomes a serious health hazard, unfortunately these safe levels are not taken into consideration in India.
Noise Pollution in Urban India
The urban areas of India have become highly populated in past few decades. In the last decade, it rose by 31.8%. This has led to certain environmental and health issues that also include environmental pollution. Some causes are unavoidable and are required to be followed for the developmental activities. So, it is not possible to completely avoid them. But, some preventive measures sure can be taken to control and minimize the extent of it. As per the Prevention and Control of Pollution Act implemented in 1981, the noise is termed as an ‘air-pollutant’. It is that unpleasant, distracting and unnecessary sound that ought to be avoided due to its sleep depriving and concentration-lowering impact. The person gets annoyed due to the persistent uneasiness caused by them. According to the WHO guidelines, for a sound sleep, the noise in that room should not be more than 30dBA. For maintaining concentration in any classroom, it should not exceed 35dBA. The noise levels more than these limits on a continuous basis, may harm mental as well as physical health on a short term and long term basis. Sadly enough, this issue is not taken that seriously infront of other forms of pollution – air pollution and water pollution.
Types of Noises leading to Pollution
There are two major types of noises that lead to pollution in their own ways. These are – Community Noise and Industrial Noise. The community noise includes noises emitted from all the domestic sources like noise created by electronic domestic gadgets – Refrigerator, Juicer-mixer-Grinder, Television, Washing Machine, etc. Whereas the industrial noise includes, those created by automobiles on road, constructions activities, fireworks and loudspeakers.
Measurement of Noise Pollution
To measure noise, the average pressure level of the sound is measured for a particular amount of time by a weighting scale. It also finds out the response of the auditory system. The noise is measured as decibels. The gadgets used to measure noise are noise level meter, noise dosimeter and impulse-sound level meter. Noise dosimeter can be worn by the person and works better than noise level meter.
Governmental Actions on Noise Pollution in India
In March 2011, the Central Pollution Control Board established the first part of noise pollution monitoring network in 35 major cities in India including all the metros like Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Lucknow and Chennai. The system is a part of the National Environmental Policy adopted in 2006. It is expected that by the establishment of second and third parts, the number of locations to be monitored will be increased160 cities covering various parts of Indian states.
Under the Environmental Protection Act, the Central Government came up with Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules 2000 which were to be implemented once they got published in the official gazette. These rules are meant for the following:
- Implementation of noise standards in different zones or areas.
- Restrict the use of loud-speakers.
- Restrict the over-usage of horns, sound creating equipments for construction and fire-crackers.
- Allotting responsibility to State Pollution Control Boards or Committees and the Central Pollution Control Board, for collecting, processing and providing the statistical data about the noise pollution, so that adequate measures may be taken to prevent and control it.
On violation of these rules, the person shall be liable for penalty as per the Act.
Studies on Noise Pollution in India
It is already proven that the cities with medium as well as small scale industries, with bigger commercial zones as compared to other cities have higher implications of noise pollution. A study was conducted by International Research Journal of Environmental Sciences, on the levels of noise pollution in various zones like commercial zone, silence zone and residential zones, of Morena districts in Madhya Pradesh. It was found that too much honking of horn, the heavy sounds created by the under-maintained vehicles were the major causes of noise pollution. Along with this, the encroachments and poor conditions of roads to added to the overall mess as they lead to traffic jams, thus causing more noise pollution. Well, this is the situation in a district; imagine the condition in other big cities whether the commercial zones are wider, and so are vehicles and encroachments on roads. So it becomes extremely inevitable for the authorities to take quick necessary steps to combat this situation or else things will go beyond control.
Many other studies related to noise pollution, have been conducted in many other parts of the country. It is observed that the major contributor to this menace is motor transport. In Balasore, it was found that the noise created by the traffic was way more than the permissible range 70dBA. On finding out the noise created by individual vehicles, it was found that all of them created noise more than the allowed range.
A study conducted to measure the levels of noise in four different zones by the Central Pollution Control Board revealed that the highest noise levels during the day were recorded from silence zones including educational places, hospitals, religious spots whereas the lowest was recorded in residential areas. During the night, the highest pollution levels were found to be in intersecting areas and the lowest was in all the industrial areas.
Among the factors responsible for increase in noise levels are the ever-increasing population that calls
for increase in the transportation demand thereby leasing to increase in the use of vehicles and finally resulting to traffic congestion on the roads. Due to traffic congestion, the vehicles emit more pollutants including the noise to the air. For people living in high noise areas, being subjected to such noises at constant level, it is very likely for them to get caught in serious health risks including hearing impairment.
Another study was conducted to learn about the noise levels during Diwali festival. It was found that the pollution levels rose to 80 dBA, which is 2 times more than the levels during normal days 57-69 dBA.
As per the study conducted on noise levels due to Diwali firecrackers by Awaaz Foundation along with the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board following four consecutive years – 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, the noise pollution reached to over 125dB.This is a saddening fact that this is never mentioned on the packaging of these products. Even the authorities are made aware about the situation yet they don’t work on them.
A lot needs to be done to control this ever-growing menace in India. People need to be made aware about the hard consequences of this major environmental concern which is often taken on a lighter note, considering air and water pollution. Several NGOs have come forward to work in this direction. They go places to educate people about the extent of possible harmful impact of noise pollution. Noise pollution effects the overall ambiance of a place which does not remain healthy due to excess of noise. The prolonged subjection to such an environment may cause serious mental and physiological problems that once out of control may even be fatal for anyone. Therefore, the issue ought to be given as much thought and consideration as that given to other environment-related problems.