12th July 2017
Shri Narendra Modi
Hon’ble Prime Minister of India
Dr. Harsh Vardhan
Hon’ble Environment Minister of India
Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and Hon’ble Environment Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan,
Subject: Strongest objection to proposed relaxation of noise pollution Rules in Silence Zones in Maharashtra.
We very strongly object to the proposed relaxation of Noise Pollution Rules which ban loudspeaker use in Silence Zones by the Maharashtra State Government. We write to you in anguish, on behalf of citizens of Mumbai already suffering from the highest noise pollution levels in the world accordingly to Central Pollution Control Board studies.
Noise Pollution effects are felt throughout the human body and cause hearing loss, mental health and heart disease and affects every single organ of the body according to medical studies. It’s most negative effects are felt by the elderly, infants and people suffering from illness and sometimes even death can result due to sudden or very loud noise.
Silence Zones are defined under the Noise Pollution Rules as areas within 100 meters of sensitive places like hospitals, courts, educational institutions and religious places where people need an extra level of protection. The Noise Rules were formulated for enforcement of decibel levels which were passed in Parliament as a part of the Environment Protection Act 1986. The decibel level restrictions, derived from a World Health Organization Report “Community Noise” 1986 acknowledge the environmental harm caused by noise pollution and mandate the need to restrict them to within specified limits. The Noise Pollution Rules and Statute have been upheld by the Supreme Court of India as a Constitutional right of citizens to enjoy peaceful life under Article 21.
The Supreme Court has clarified, in its Order dated 5th October 2005 that no loudspeakers can be used in Silence Zones at any time, and has re-iterated its Orders several times. The Bombay High Court passed a comprehensive Order in August 2016 and the Maharashtra State Government filed an Undertaking to the Court that it would ensure that loudspeaker permissions are not given in Silence Zones.
Awaaz Foundation has measured noise from various sources in Mumbai since 2002. While noise pollution is a continuous hazard due to traffic and other noise sources, it peak effects are felt during the festival season when loudspeakers are often used in the sensitive areas of Silence Zones, adversely affecting the health of patients, the elderly, infants and ill persons. Our studies indicate that the noise levels from loudspeakers in the festival season, range from about 85 – 123.7dB We have also found that the noise level when loudspeakers are used, can never be within the statutory level required for ensuring a healthy life, specially for those who are already vulnerable. Studies of noise levels during Ganpati, and Eid e Milad for the past two years are attached for your reference.
Hon’ble Prime Minister, you have undertaken a mission to ensure a pollution free India under your mission of Swaccha Bharat Abhiyan. Noise Pollution has been acknowledged as one of the most major pollutants affecting the health of crores of citizens. Mumbai is officially the noisiest city in India. Hon’ble Environment Minister, as a senior ENT surgeon you are well aware of the adverse health effects of noise pollution and the inadvisability of permitting noise sources in Silence Zones including hospitals.
The Hon’ble Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Shri Devendra Fadnavis has reportedly made a Statement bowing to pressure from Ganesh mandals (who cooperated last year in bringing Ganpati noise levels down, which merited a thank you message from the State Environment Secretary and the Mumbai Police Commissioner for making anti-noise pollution a citizens’ Movement) will apply to the Union Environment Minister to permit loudspeakers in Silence Zones this year. He has also stated that in case this request in not accepted in time by the MoEFCC, the State Government will issue an Ordnance. A newspaper report of the Hon’ble Chief Minister’s statement is attached for your reference.
Hon’ble Prime Minister and Hon’ble Environment Minister, I appeal to you, on behalf of the health of citizens of Mumbai to personally intervene against such a measure, which would violate a Statute of the Indian Parliament, the Noise Pollution Rules of the MoEFCC, Supreme Court of India and Bombay High Court Orders. Such an action, for political gain would adversely affect the health of crores of Mumbai citizens, including those most vulnerable to severe consequences from noise pollution.
Thank you and with regards.
Govt's attempt to skirt HC order - State wants Centre's nod for a noisier Ganeshotsav,
Mumbai Mirror, 10th July 2017 http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com/Article.aspx?eid=31821&articlexml=Govts-attempt-to-skirt-HC-order-State-wants-11072017001021
Noise Pollution Reports from loudspeakers and Festival Noise, Awaaz Foundation, 2004-2016
7th July 2017
Hon’ble Environment Minister Shri Ramdas Kadam,
State of Maharashtra,
Hon’ble Environment Minister Shri Ramdas Kadam,
Awaaz Foundation strongly objects to the increase in decibel levels of sirens in Mumbai from 100dB to 120dB. We appeal to you, on behalf of critically ill patients using ambulances as transport to hospitals to consider the ill effects of intolerable noise levels. We also to appeal to you on behalf of other residents of Mumbai whose health would be jeopardized by such high noise levels on our streets.
The proposal to increase ambulance siren noise levels to 120dB is dangerous to the safety of the patient inside the ambulance and to the hospitals and other Silence Zones placed along roadsides. It is also dangerous to residents of nearby areas who may be in vulnerable situations including elderly people and children. High noise levels would constitute a safety risk to traffic as noise affects mental health and could result in increased road rage. It would also place already vulnerable traffic police at risk of adverse health effects and jeopardize their ability to enforce traffic discipline.
International studies indicate that it is unsafe even for healthy people to be exposed to 120dB of sound for more than 7 seconds. It is far more dangerous for critically ill patients to be exposed to such high noise levels.
Noise adds to stress levels. Exposure to such dangerously high noise in rickety ambulances without any sound insulation through jammed Mumbai traffic could even result in the death of a patient struggling to receive medical care. Doctors and nurses will not be able to communicate inside these ambulances to provide health care and the added stress can mean the difference between life and death of critically ill patients.
The Indian Noise Pollution Rules are based on the World Health Organization Report “Community Noise” which states that area around hospitals should be defined as Silence Zones so that patients are not exposed to noise pollution over 50 dB in the daytime and 40dB in the nighttime. An ambulance, which operates as a patient care center during transport to hospital is also in need of insulation from sound similar to a hospital. Most ambulances in Mumbai, unlike those in the U.S. do not have any sound insulation.
Awaaz Foundation has measured noise levels from sirens in London and Mumbai. The measurements in Mumbai were carried out along with the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board in 2014 and maximum decibel level was 100dB. The measurements in London were carried out in May 2017 and maximum decibel level was 94dB.
Hon’ble Minister Shri Ramdas Kadam, on behalf of citizens of Mumbai who are already suffering the ill effects of high noise levels on a daily basis in our city, the noisiest in India according to a Central Pollution Control Board study, we appeal to you to consider the long term ill effects on our collective health. In particular, we request you to consider the effects of dangerously high noise levels on critically ill patients inside an ambulance on their way to hospital. We sincerely request you to withdraw this proposal immediately.
Thank you and with regards.
Enclosed: Letter to Hon’ble Chief Minister Maharashtra Shri Devendra Fadnavis dated 23rd May 2017