The lenient attitude of the state government when it comes to noise pollution during Ganeshotsav has resulted in a flood of complaints from residents about violations, say activists working to keep decibel levels in check in the city.
Anti-noise-pollution activist Sumaira Abdulali said the noise level in Dadar yesterday reached 115 dB, much above the limit of 55 dB.
“I believe many mandals violated the noise pollution norms in the city because of the lenient attitude of the government this year,” Abdulali said. “I have been receiving a number of complaints from citizens about the noise levels.”
Abdulali, who is the founder of the NGO Awaaz Foundation, said there was also much confusion among revellers about the noise deadline, resulting in things like bursting of firecrackers at night.
“I spoke to many revellers and policemen, and they were confused about the noise deadline,” she said. “Some people said they thought the deadline was midnight, while actually it is 10 pm. Last year the maximum noise level was 88 dB. This year even without loudspeakers the noise level is way above the permissible limit, and we are talking about just the fifth day of the festival. What came as a surprise for me this time was that many people complained about crackers being burst late in the night, which is a violation. One can be penalised for it.”
Noise has been recognised as an ambient air pollutant and the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) monitors noise pollution in various cities during the Ganesh festival. According to rules, the permissible noise level during the day is 50dB in silence zones and 55dB in residential areas.
Abdulali said that between 8 pm and 9.30 pm yesterday, she recorded 115 dB in Dadar, which was high considering only dhols were playing and there were no loudspeakers on. She said while Girgaum was quiet, Worli and Haji Ali were as bad as Dadar.
“I usually monitor noise levels only on the seventh and 10th day of Ganeshotsav, which are immersion days, but this time I was forced to monitor the level from earlier because of the many complaints I received from people over the phone and email,” she said.
Abdulali said even small dhols were producing 95 dB, as there was confusion over whether the extended deadline of midnight for playing traditional instruments was applicable to all days of the festival or only the 10th day.
“We are playing with the health of people this way,” she said.
Abdulali blamed the government for the situation, saying it should have made clear announcements about noise rules.
“What is unfortunate is that Deputy CM Ajit Pawar’s statement on relaxing the ban on loudspeakers for the Ganesh festival after 10 pm has given Mumbaikars freedom to break the laSound checkw,” she said. “There is no official communication over the same and hence people have got freedom to play music and loudspeakers till late, leaving no one to blame for the situation. There is no clarification on whether it is dhols that are allowed or loudspeakers and on which day and till what time.”
If figures are to be believed, this Gokulashtami the noise pollution recorded by Awaaz Foundation was the highest compared to the last few Gokulashtamis in the state. This year Abdulali recorded 173 decibels, which broke the past record of 105 decibels.
According to MPCB reports, noise pollution monitoring done till last year showed the levels were decreasing in cities like Kolhapur, Satara, Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane, Aurangabad and Amravati over the last few years. Only some cities, like Nagpur and Jalgaon, showed an increasing trend in noise levels.
Mansi More, a Dadar resident, said: “This year it is terrible. People are just bursting crackers and playing music till late in the night. Nobody is bothered and people don’t turn off speakers even after 10 pm. In our area, a few boys who remain awake till late in the night and call themselves caretakers of the idol were found bursting crackers at 3 am.”
MPCB spokesperson Sanjay Bhuskute said: “We are monitoring the noise level from the fifth day. The final report will be out only after a few days.”
The noise level between 8 pm and 9.30 pm in Dadar yesterday
The upper limit for noise in a residential area from 6 am to 10 pm (at night the limit drops to 45 dB). The limit for a silence zone is 50 dB (40 dB at night)
The number of noise monitoring stations across the state. The city has 25 of these, Navi Mumbai 5, Pune 20 and Thane none