Mum­bai HC wants noise pol­lu­tion con­trolled. Is Delhi lis­ten­ing?

SOUND CHECK Noise map­ping rec­om­mended for Ma­ha­rash­tra ci­ties and in­cluded in de­vel­op­ment plans

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - Estates - - FRONT PAGE - Van­dana Ram­nani van­dana.ram­nani@hin­dus­tan­

Air pol­lu­tion in the Cap­i­tal has been mak­ing news, but what about noise? Even though noise has been re­garded as a pol­lu­tant as per the Noise Pol­lu­tion (Reg­u­la­tions and Con­trol) Rules 2000 pro­vid­ing for am­bi­ent qual­ity stan­dards when it comes to noise, noth­ing much has been done on the ground to con­trol it in Delhi-NCR.

In­ter­est­ingly, the Bom­bay High Court (HC) re­cently passed an or­der for 10 pub­lic in­ter­est lit­i­ga­tion pe­ti­tions stat­ing the hous­ing and de­vel­op­ment au­thor­i­ties should in­clude noise pol­lu­tion in mas­ter plans “as a pa­ram­e­ter of qual­ity of life to avoid noise me­nace and to achieve the ob­jec­tive of main­tain­ing the am­bi­ent air qual­ity stan­dards in re­spect of noise.” Mum­bai is cur­rently in the process of fi­nal­is­ing its 20-year de­vel­op­ment plan for 2014-2034.

HC or­dered noise map­ping in all ma­jor Ma­ha­rash­tra ci­ties, say­ing it should be in­te­grated in their de­vel­op­ment plans. “The pur­pose of noise map­ping is to pre­pare a map of the city with de­tails of si­lence zones, res­i­den­tial zones, high con­struc­tion ar­eas etc in suf­fi­cient de­tail to al­low it to serve as a base for strate­gic plan­ning and de­vel­op­ment of the city.”

Noise map­ping will be use­ful for de­tect­ing high noise lev­els in prob­lem ar­eas and en­sur­ing schools or hospi­tals are not built there. It would also help in de­mar­ca­tion of lo­ca­tions as si­lence zones (ar­eas com­pris­ing not less than 100 me­tres around hospi­tals, ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions and courts).

This is a move in the right di­rec­tion. Mas­ter plans can spec­ify reg­u­la­tions that build­ings lo­cated close to air­ports have to fol­low. Spe­cific sound re­sis­tant win­dows and doors can be used for such build­ings. Us­ing noise map­ping, lo­ca­tions for banquet halls, schools and hospi­tals can be iden­ti­fied. In case of in­te­grated town­ships, clubs, sta­dia, schools and hospi­tals should all be planned in the pe­riph­ery of the town­ship and an ad­e­quate buf­fer cre­ated be­tween res­i­den­tial ar­eas, com­mer­cial and recre­ational zones, says Su­nil Ag­gar­wal, an ur­ban plan­ner.

The Bom­bay HC also held that any breach of the Noise Pol­lu­tion Rules will amount to in­fringe­ment of fun­da­men­tal right of cit­i­zens un­der Ar­ti­cle 21 of the Con­sti­tu­tion of In­dia. Cit­i­zens will also have the right to seek com­pen­sa­tion from the state within the mean­ing of Ar­ti­cle 12 of the Con­sti­tu­tion of In­dia on ac­count of breach of fun­da­men­tal rights.

The HC also noted that per­mis­sions for he­li­pads in the city would have to be granted only af­ter not­ing of noise lev­els dur­ing move­ment of he­li­copters and check­ing if this would in­creasenoise pol­lu­tion in Mum­bai.

The court banned also fire­crack­ers in si­lence zones and re­served time for burst­ing fire­crack­ers in other ar­eas be­tween 10pm and 6am on any day with no ex­emp­tions for Di­wali. Loud­speak­ers and pub­lic ad­dress sys­tems were also

not to be used with­out writ­ten per­mis­sion from au­thor­i­ties un­der Noise Pol­lu­tion Rules and all other laws in force. The 15 days on which loud­speak­ers are to be al­lowed will be no­ti­fied in ad­vance by the state gov­ern­ment. Burst­ing crack­ers in a closed space such as an au­di­to­rium will be al­lowed if decibel lev­els do not ex­ceed per­mis­si­ble lev­els.

Cit­i­zens will have a right to seek com­pen­sa­tion from the state gov­ern­ment for breach of Noise Pol­lu­tion Rules un­der Ar­ti­cle 21. The court also sug­gested that toll free numbers be set up and anony­mous com­plaints en­ter­tained and that po­lice sus­pend loud­speaker li­censes when com­plaints are re­ceived. No fu­ture per­mis­sions will also be granted to those vi­o­lat­ing con­di­tions of per­mis­sions. The state gov­ern­ment can take ac­tion against de­part­ments and of­fi­cers who do not ef­fec­tively im­ple­ment the noise pol­lu­tion rules.

As for penalty, the court or­dered that vi­o­la­tion of rules will be pun­ish­able by im­pris­on­ment which may ex­tend to five years or with a fine of ` 1 lakh or both. In case of con­tin­u­a­tion


of con­tra­ven­tion for a pe­riod of one year af­ter the con­vic­tion, the term of im­pris­on­ment may ex­tend to seven years.

Chetan Agarwal, an en­vi­ron­ment an­a­lyst, says that the state author­ity or the lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties must cre­ate an app with a GPS to point the lo­ca­tion, click a picture and mea­sure decibel lev­els. In­di­vid­u­als want­ing to per­form in a con­cert should ap­ply for per­mis­sions us­ing this app and clearly state the type of equip­ment they plan to use and de­clare that they will abide by the noise pol­lu­tion norms. The app should also be able to re­ject ap­pli­ca­tions from or­gan­i­sa­tions or in­di­vid­u­als vi­o­lat­ing rules in the past and main­tain­ing records of per­mis­sions granted and re­jected. The lo­cal pol­lu­tion con­trol board of­fice or the author­ity should get qual­ity noise me­ters in­stalled.

There’s a need to in­stall noise me­ters at sta­di­ums, near high­ways.

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