The city saw some respite and drop in noise pollution this year as compared to last year during Ganpati and Eid processions though they continued to be more than permissible limits. The readings were taken by the Awaaz Foundation, an NGO that works towards creating awareness on noise pollution, and checks noise pollution levels during festivals, celebrations and rallies.
Political pandals see a jump in noise level
This year the highest decibel level during the final day of Ganpati immersion stood at 114.7dB recorded in Matunga as compared to 120.2 dB last year. A telling story of the reading of noise pollution recorded was that while mandals celebrating the Ganpati festival reduced the noise level, political pandals saw a jump in noise level as compared to last year. The second highest reading of this year was 114.1 dB from political pandals that blared music, welcome messages, religious slogans and announcements that too post midnight when usage of speakers is not allowed. Readings at various political pandals at Girgaon Chowpatty were more as compared to 106.9 dB last year. Noise pollution from political pandals had religious slogans not pertaining to Ganpati celebrations and went on well past midnight despite complaints to police. Reading was also taken for the seventh day of immersion which saw the highest reading of 111.1 dB at Worli Naka.
In case of Eid processions too, the noise pollution dropped as compared to last year but remained more than permissible levels. Highest recorded this year was 108.1 dB at Mohammed Ali Road-J J Hospital stretch this year as compared to 116.3 dB recorded last year. The NGO said readings at Eid processions could not be taken till late as it was raining and distant reading did not make sense as they did not give an accurate picture of noise pollution. In both the festivals Awaaz foundation credited fall in noise levels to lesser use of DJs and to some extent rainfall that led to speakers being covered with sheets that suppressed the noise pollution and reduced the readings.
Noise pollution in Eid was from constant honking from vehicles
The NGO also said that last year almost all the procession were mounted with DJs playing music for Eid, which was not the case this year. At Mohammedali Road almost none had it. In Byculla where they were present in larger numbers, the readings could not be taken from close quarters due to rain. The foundation said that the real noise pollution in Eid was from the constant honking from vehicles. "They probably just wanted some noise because loud music from DJs was not there," said Sumaira Abdulali, founder of Awaaz Foundation.
"It is good that noise pollution decreased as compared to last year but they are still a lot as compared to permissible limits," she said. As per law, in residential areas, decibel levels cannot go beyond 55 dB from 6 am to 10 pm and 45 dB from 10 pm to midnight. Post midnight use of loudspeakers is not allowed. "The routes that processions of Ganpati and Eid take are predominantly residential that include Parel, Byculla, Girgaon and Mohammed Ali Road. Commercial areas are few like BKC, Ballard Estate and Nariman Point. So we should be ascertaining pollution levels on residential area parameters," said Abdulali.
Abdulali said she was optimistic with the readings over the years and that political will needed to be strong to curb it further which was not the case. She said, "I would say that processions tend to co-operate but political parties do not. Going and talking to police also does not help. It is very clear (from readings) that people want to get the decibel levels down because even they understand the health damage it does. The political will is lacking on the other hand. The will is not to control but to make more noise about it."