It’s been called the City That Never Sleeps and now it may well also be called the City of Earaches. For as per an observation from the Central Pollution Control Board, Mumbai has been reported to have the maximum violation of safe noise levels for consistently longer periods during 2011-14. You may not realise it, but the din is causing you harm…
‘People are obsessed with honking’
The biggest culprit in the case is motor vehicle noise, says a study. Affirms Mumbai Deputy Transport Commissioner (E-II), A N Bhalchandra: “People are so obsessed with honking, especially when they are at a red signal. I mean, you can’t fly in front of the vehicle ahead of you. And this is also the one major feedback that we get from tourists — that it is too noisy on the roads.” He says the issue has a two-fold source and that noise emanates from double factors — a vehicle horn, which has fixed decibel limits and badly maintained engines. “In the first case, people hardly follow the limits and private cars and others honk near schools and hospitals, which is wrong. Also, multi-tone or shrill horns are still being used, though they are not allowed all over India as per the Motor Vehicles Act. Plus, city and outstation cars as well as heavy vehicles such as garbage dumpers are not maintained and thus emanate loud noise.” What really can be done to help this? “We can crack the whip, but there also has to be some awareness and discipline at the citizen level,” he says.
There has been a huge rise in cases of those suffering from hearing-related problems in the city. Reveals ENT surgeon Dr Shailesh Pandey, “I have seen at least a 50 per cent increase in cases of disturbed hearing in the last few months itself. People are suffering from acute sensory neural hearing loss, which can be extremely stressful — you wake up one day and realise that you can’t hear properly in one ear or both ears; it’s almost near deafness. Cases of Tinnitus — a constant ringing in the ears — also occurs when one is exposed to loud noise, and that can be highly disturbing, too.” His advice? “A large majority is stuck in commuting on the road on a daily basis, so don’t honk when it’s not needed. Even something like loud music from headphones can be
damaging, so avoid that,” he adds.
ZONES THAT HAVE BEEN THE NOISIEST
Anything higher than 80dBHL is hazardous, according to the WHO, and in areas like Sion and Chembur, the noise level is beyond 85 decibels at any time of the day, reveals Abdulali. She adds, “Other silence zones are also suffering. The road near Leelavati Hospital is one of the noisest junctions, as traffic flow from the sea link comes onto that road. The busy Jaslok Hospital road can also get very bad, especially at night. Sion Hospital also sees very heavy traffic and is noisy.”
SPARE A THOUGHT FOR ANIMALS
Animal activist Sunish Subramanian Kunju says it’s not just two-legged denizens of the city, but also animals and birds who are affected by noise. “People often place loudspeakers in trees, which harms them. Dogs and other animals hear noise at higher levels than humans. This affects their food intake, habitat and reproduction and results in hearing loss and more. For sparrows, bats and owls too, noise severely hampers life.”
What you can do
1. Download a free app noise meter on your phone.
2. Measure the noise levels and then photograph this measurement.
3. Make a complaint to the police on 100/103 after which you will get a complaint number.
4. Post your complaint with details on a social networking site.
5. The data will be collated and sent to the Government and Police, periodically.
Lower the damn decibel, Mumbai!
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