Amid COVID-19 pandemic, Mumbai sees quietest Anant Chaturthi 2020

No processions, no firecrackers, no loudspeakers and sparse crowd – were the stark features of this year’s Anant Chaturthi 2020. Anti-noise pollution activists claim that this year’s Ganeshotsav has been the quietest in history.

Owing to restrictions imposed by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) due to the Pandemic scare, scenes on Mumbai streets were completely different as compared to previous years during the Ganeshotsav.

“This Ganpati festival has been the quietest in the recorded history with the cooperation of Ganpati mandals, police and citizens. The highest noise level recorded during the festival days was 100.7 decibels (dB) and 94.4dB on the last day,” said Sumaira Abdulali, convenor of the Mumbai-based Awaaz Foundation.

Abdulali added that unlike previous years, no noise pollution-related complaints were received this year from the citizens. “This year political pandals were absent and there was no use of loudspeakers. The BMC and police also did not use loudspeakers to regulate crowds during processions or immersion,” she said.

A report by Awaaz foundation stated that the highest level ever recorded was 123.7dB in 2015. Last year, the highest decibel during the entire ten days of visarjan was 121.3dB at Girgaon Chowpatty; the majority of readings last year were over 100dB.

Elaborating on this year's report on noise levels recorded Abdulali said: " In the near-absence of large crowds, loudspeakers and noisy instruments, the visarjan did not create noise pollution, for the first time in most places. The absence of crowd and noisy instruments was a result of installation of immersion spots across the city and policies for on-line celebrations. Such measures benefit the health of all Mumbaikars since noise pollution, the ‘second hand smoke’ is a leading cause of illness and debility including deafness, cardiovascular and mental health ailments."

"Although the police restricted the number of participants in each Collection, small crowds gathered in some places. They included children and adults without masks," the report pointed out.

"It is heartening to know that the Ganpati mandals voluntarily cooperated not only to safeguard health and the environment but to undertake important social causes in the crisis we currently face, the Covid 19 pandemic. Although we have seen a dramatic change in noise levels this year, how sustainable will this be in a post Covid world? I look forward to the continuing trend of decreasing festival noise over the years," added Abdulali.

Awaaz Foundation has been measuring noise levels from various sources since 2003 including festivals, religious places, political rallies, private events using loudspeakers or firecrackers, construction, traffic, railways and airports.

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