What started as a movement to keep one road free of traffic snarls and vehicular congestion went awry on Sunday as vehicular noise was replaced by that from blaring loudspeakers, much to the ire of local residents.
Activist Sumaira Abdulali, from Awaaz Foundation, who had measured the decibel levels found them far above prescribed limits. The average levels went up considerably from 64dB to 94dB on Sunday.
She said, “Citizens’ groups have lost their right to complain about noise levels after the car-free day. In terms of noise, the purpose was defeated due to blaring loudspeakers. But if you look at it from the vehicular pollution point of view it was a success.”
Prabha Pandey, a resident of Varun Building on Carter Road, said, “Car-free day implied no air and noise pollution from vehicles. It implied a return to nature and peace and quiet. But, we replaced that with electronic noise. Are we being hoodwinked into thinking that loudspeaker noise isn’t noise?”
Pandey is curious to know who is answerable. “Goods are being sold here, so somebody is benefiting? We are all for fun, but why should it be accompanied by all this noise?” she said.
Roshan Dabhoiwala, Bandra West Residents’ Association, said, “The majority of the people have been out enjoying cycling with their kids. But, a few who wanted to take their cars out were irritated. Some also complained about the noise from loudspeakers.”
Nevertheless, despite the noise, the children were seen enjoying the car-free road. They were found racing up and down either cycling or skating.
Jaya Ahuja, a Carter Road resident, said, “We can breathe fresh air now. We want a car-free day every week.”
KBS Foundation trustees Poplai, along with Ranjiv Jhangiani, Neera Sahgal, and Renuka Tahiliani, along with their technical consultant Seema Tiwari and dedicated Core Team of concerned citizens who are passionate about protecting the environment and cycling worked round the clock planning the event.
Residents were given tips on ways to get rid of fat belly. There was also power yoga, Tai Chi, and musical activities. MLA Baba Siddiqui, who fell and injured himself in the Cyclothon, was seen gamely joining MP Priya Dutt on Carter Road on his bicycle.
“It’s a great experience. Bandra always takes the lead in environment related activities. There is a feeling of a Mumbai bandh on this road with no cars,” Siddiqui said. He said he would push for dedicated cycling lanes from Carter Road to Bandstand.