Activists measuring Mumbai’s noise levels on the first day of Ganesh Chaturthi (one and half day immersion) found the decibel levels to be the lowest on Sunday than that recorded in the last 17 years. Processions were quieter this year than the noise levels measured during the entire festive season last year, noted Sumaira Abdulali, convenor of Awaaz Foundation.
The highest level of noise recorded -100.7 decibels (dB) (as loud as a motorcycle) was from a procession at Worli Dairy in south Mumbai, Awaaz Foundation said in its report. Last year, the highest noise level was recorded only on the last day (Anant Chaturdashi) at 121.3 dB.
So far, the highest noise level over the past 17 years was recorded during Ganeshotsav 2015 at 123.7 dB, followed by 123.2 dB recorded in the year 2013.
“Ganesh Chaturthi, this year, was the quietest ever since 2003 (the year Awaaz Foundation started recording noise levels). People didn’t gather in most places that are otherwise crowded at this time of the year. Almost no loudspeakers or other noisy instruments were seen. Increased number of artificial immersion spots and the guidelines issued by the state government and BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to keep the celebrations low key helped to a large extent,” said Abdulali.
The report further revealed that, on Sunday, lowest noise levels were recorded at Shivaji Park in Dadar at 53.1 dB from a collection point and an artificial immersion site. At all remaining areas, ambient noise (traffic, but no loudspeakers or noisy instruments) contributed to the noise level and ranged between 65.3 dB and 77.2 dB.
Abdulali added, "The pandemic has taught us very important lessons. It made us experience first hand that so many things we thought were essential can actually be done away with. We can still live happily. One of them is -noisy processions during various festivities. This year Mumbai celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi without loudspeakers and noisy instruments amidst the pandemic, with the same fervour."
She added, "In the last three to four years, the level of noise during festivals is going down gradually. I feel that there has been a huge increase in awareness about noise during the festivals among youngsters, who are opting for less noisy celebrations. All these factors have played a major role in ensuring smaller and less noisy processions by each passing year.
Health Hazards of noise pollution and regulations
According to the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000, residential areas should have a maximum noise level of 55 decibels (dB) in the day and 45dB during night.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), noise levels less than 70 dB are not damaging, regardless of how long or consistent the exposure is. Exposure for more than 8 hours to constant noise beyond 85 dB may be hazardous. Continuous noise in the range of 100dB to 110dB can result in 'sensorineural hearing loss'.