Two years ago, Mumbai was listed as the noisiest city in the country by the Central Pollution Control Board. Noise is not just a nuisance in your neighbourhood, but also a major cause of sleep deprivation that can lead to annoyance and poor concentration. High noise levels secretes stress hormones that can increase the heart rate and blood pressure.
“When you go to a pub, you get charged up with the loud music. This is because of the hormones being secreted in your brain. It’s the same thing with noise, but you don’t realise the harm it’s doing to your body,” says Dr Mahesh Bedekar, who has filed numerous PILs on noise pollution.
According to data from Awaaz Foundation, the noise level recorded in September last year was as high as 120 decibels (dB) in some parts of the city. In the corresponding month of 2011, it was 115 dB. This is more than double the safe level of 55 dB set by pollution authorities, according to whom, noise above 80 dB can be dangerous.
Awaaz Foundation is a non-government organisation based in Mumbai that is building awareness on environment pollution, with a special focus on checking noise.
September, October and November are said to be the noisiest months in the country, which is when some major festivals are celebrated with loud music and firecrackers. Honking in rising traffic congestion and increasing construction activity are the other major sources of high noise levels in urban centres.
Kolkata, Delhi, Lucknow, – in that order – rank as the other noisy cities in the country.
In fact, not long ago, a global report put Mumbai among one of the noisiest cities in the world. Prolonged exposure to high-intensity sound, that is anything above 85db, can cause noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).
This is more so in the case of children and it even affect babies in the womb. The World Health Organisation says NIHL is one of the most avoidable hearing conditions.
Annoyance and sleep deprivation aggravate among the aged.
While the campaign by socially-conscious groups has not succeeded in changing this worrying trend, revellers and vehicle owners show little regard even for silence zones around educational, religious and medical institutions.