Hon’ble Minister Shri Nitin Gadkari,
Awaaz Foundation is an NGO which has worked against noise pollution for nearly two decades. I have read your statement reported by PTI that horns will play to the tunes of Indian music and request that it be withdrawn urgently.
Indian roads have some of the highest accident rates in the world already and new roads and highways are being built at a very fast rate. If horns are used as entertainment, they will be unavailable to sound a safety alert on these roads and rather, will contribute to already high accidents and deaths.
The cacophony of loud horns all sounding simultaneously will create an extremely stressful environment. Since noise causes stress and anxiety and since people are likely to use them even more than before when they start to consider horns as entertainment, musical will seriously impact people's health. For this reason, they are also currently banned under the Noise Pollution Rules.
I request that training programs for driving schools and drivers at the point of licensing and license renewal should be the strategy of choice to reduce cacohony in Indian roads. Restrictions not exceeding health-based limits of 85 dB maximum decibel levels of horns at the stage of manufacture and at the stage of renewal of vehicle licenses should also be notified and enforced. Together, these actions will serve to reduce honking and noise pollution and make our roads safer.
I request that the function of a horn as a safety device, meant to sound an alert in case of a dangerous situation is maintained as sacrosanct. If horns are considered to be entertainment, they will completely lose their value towards safety. Imagine the sound of different music playing out of sync, all together at decibel levels equalling loudspeakers all day, every day!
Thank you and with regards.
mobile: +91 982 15 20805
Letters to Union Health Minister Shri Harsh Vardhan and Shri Aaditya Thackeray, Environment Minister, Government of Maharashtra
Dear Mr. Ajoy Mehta
Subject: Application for declaration of my mixed Residential/Silence Zone category area as ‘No Honking Zone’ and ‘Silence Zone’
Under existing Noise Pollution and Motor Vehicles Rules, citizens may apply to have their residential or mixed areas declared as Silence Zones/No honking Zones. Under this application, after consultation with residents, please notify the area from Reshma Apartments to Parishram Apartments, Nargis Dutt Road, Bandra West as Silence Zones/No Honking Zones.
According to the interpretation of the State Government, Silence Zones were de-notified in September 2017 and now, several months later, there has been no action to protect citizens from noise pollution due to honking and other noise sources. When Awaaz Foundation recently measured noise from traffic in Bandra, the decibel level of horns reached a maximum of 107 db, causing inconvenience and health problems to all of us who live on roads with vehicular traffic.
Under provisions of the Notification dated 31st July 2014 of the Maharashtra State Environment Department entitled ‘Standards for Horns, Sirens and Multi toned Horns for the Vehicles plying in the State of Maharashtra and their Use’ (“Vehicular Horn Rules”) and of the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules 2010 (“the Noise Rules”) as amended by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) on 10th August 2017, the portion of Nargis Dutt Road, Bandra West including the residential buildings Reshma Apartments, Imperial Heights and Parishram may be declared as a ‘No Honking Zone’ and ‘Silence Zone’ after a process of due public consultation.
Section 5 of the Vehicular Horn Rules states:
“5. Irrespective of the norms stipulated in 1,2, and 3 above, following areas on the State of Maharashtra are declared as “no honking zones/areas” wherein any kind of honking from the motor vehicle is prohibited at any given time except during extreme emergency situations.
(d) Residential areas, after due public consultation will be declared as ‘No Honking Zones’ by concern Local Body. No honking will be allowed in such areas except for the timings as stipulated by the Local Body.”
Note 4. of the Schedule to the Noise Rules states “Mixed categories of areas may be declared as one of the four above mentioned categories by the competent authority.”
According to the Government’s interpretation of the Noise Rules amended on 10th August 2017, Silence Zones earlier identified and declared by the BMC are no longer in operation as they have not been specifically notified by the State Government. In the period from August 2017 till date, Silence Zones have remained unprotected from all noise sources , causing great hardship to residents of Mumbai.
Silence Zone Rules were first implemented in 27th September 2003, when the Bombay High Court ordered the police to verify and certify before granting any loudspeaker permissions in a Silence Zone as defined under the Noise Rules. On 18th July 2005, the Supreme Court of India ordered other noise sources such as honking to be added to the prohibitions in Silence Zones. In February 2009, the Court ordered the Government to identify and put up Silence Zone boards within one week. The Ward offices of the BMC identified more than 1200 Silence Zones in Mumbai and put up boards on site. Citizens and citizens’ groups also participated in the exercise of identification through interaction with their local Ward offices.
On 31st July 2014, after the National Green Tribunal ordered the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board to recommend appropriate restrictions on the decibel levels of sirens and horns, the Vehicular Horn Rules were notified, which provide specifically for citizens’ to participate in making their areas as ‘No Horn Zones.’
The area for which this request for a Horn Free Zone and Silence Zone is a mixed Residential/Silence Zone area on Nargis Dutt Road, Bandra West, where the Government may declare a Silence Zone after public consultation.
Since there has been a delay of several months already in notifying the already identified Silence Zones and/or in identifying Silence Zones by the BMC, I request that the procedure to notify this area under the existing provisions of law which allows for citizens’ inputs should be undertaken immediately both as a ‘No Honking Zone’ and as a ‘Silence Zone.’
Thank you and with regards.
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
From: sumaira abdulali <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Chief Minister Office <email@example.com>; Maharashtra Chief Minister <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: Chief Secretary <email@example.com>; Environment Secretary <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Additional Chief Secretary-Home <email@example.com>; Mumbai CP 1 <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Member Secretary MPCB <email@example.com>; MUNICIPAL COMMISSIONER <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 12:30 PM
Subject: Please control Mumbai's noise pollution. World class cities like London, to which we sometimes aspire, do!
23rd May 2017
Hon’ble Chief Minister Shri Devendra Fadnavis,
State of Maharashtra,
Hon’ble Chief Minister Shri Devendra Fadnavis,
During a recent visit to London, I measured noise levels at various locations and compared them with noise levels in Mumbai. I measured noise near six central London hospitals, in two London residences, at construction sites and in trains including overground and underground trains and compared the findings with corresponding locations in Mumbai.
A Report on noise levels outside six major London hospitals compared with noise levels outside six Mumbai hospitals is attached. The findings indicate that noise levels outside Mumbai hospitals are far more than outside London hospitals, although in both cities the hospitals are located on busy roads carrying large volumes of traffic. The major reason for the difference is honking in Mumbai. I also measured the decibel level of ambulances in London (94dB) and Mumbai and found the decibel level of ambulance sirens in London less than those in Mumbai (100dB.)
Recommendations: The decibel levels of horns and Silencers of vehicles need to be checked while undergoing registration formalities and through enforcement drives. Drivers need training to drive without honking and enforcement of anti-honking rules needs priority.
Honking near hospitals need special enforcement drives and we need to consider insulation of hospital premises. Ambulances too should consider lowering decibel level of sirens, particularly in light of the fact that Mumbai ambulances are not sound proofed, while critically ill patients requiring silence are treated within. Ambulances while transporting patients often act as mini hospitals and should aspire to the same level of silence as hospitals, which are Silence Zones.
Residences in London and Mumbai: Even when situated on main roads , London residences are so quiet that they measure under 30dB in the daytime. The readings include a residence with double glazed windows which measured 29dB indoors and another one with ordinary single glass, which measured 35dB in the daytime. Again, although the roads carried traffic, the London residences were quieter than Mumbai due to the absence of honking on the streets. Mumbai residences measured during 51dB and 90dB in various seasons and depending on the sources of noise, including honking, loudspeakers etc. in their vicinity.
Recommendations: Honking in Mumbai along with all types of noise including loudspeakers, firecrackers and other noise sources need to be restricted in Mumbai’s residential areas at all times.
Construction sites: The noise from construction equipment was similar in London and Mumbai, with a maximum decibel level of 101.4dB while cutting stone in a London suburb and 89.7dB at a major building construction site. In London. However, I understand that timings that such work is permitted are very strictly regulated in London and I observed noise barriers around the London sites while no such barriers exist in Mumbai. Construction is permitted in Mumbai for much longer hours than in London.
Recommendations: Timings for construction need to be restricted and an action plan to mandate noise barriers and restriction on types of construction activity permitted/not permitted in situ needs to be formulated and notified.
Overground and Underground trains: The decibel level of trains in London and Mumbai were similar with maximum decibel levels on a London underground station measuring 74.1dB and inside a train measuring The overground trains too measured similar decibel levels. The trains in Mumbai were similar to those of London on both Western and Central Line suburban trains, but exceeded decibel levels by far when announcements were made upto 88dB, when brakes were not maintained and made a screeching sound upto 94dB and when horns were used upto 120dB.
Recommendations: Maintenance of trains to restrict noise levels from faulty equipment/mechanics needs priority. Additional noise sources such as loudspeakers within trains and bhajan mandals need to be strictly regulated.
Hon’ble Chief Minister, noise pollution is a serious environment pollutant adversely affecting the health of Mumbai residents. London is a major city comparable to Mumbai in many ways, and one which we often aspire to emulate. Noise levels have been controlled there by regulating timings of noisy work, ensuring that essential services and activities such as trains, construction and traffic do not create unnecessary noise. There are also strict laws governing timing and location of recreational events which do not permit many types of activities including loudspeaker use except in designated areas. In spite of this, London is considered a noisy city and residents of London complain about the adverse effects of noise pollution.
The noise levels in Mumbai far exceed those in London due to lack of enforcement of laws and planning to control noise pollution, from traffic, construction and recreational use. Essential services such as trains also add to the noise pollution, making Mumbai one of the noisiest cities in the world. All of these noise sources could be reduced by effective political and administrative will, which would safeguard the health of crores of Mumbai residents. We request you to consider the harm caused by these high noise levels on the health of our citizens and residents of Mumbai and to take effective action to control decibel levels from all sources in Mumbai.
Thank you and with regards.
23rd May 2017
Noise levels in vicinity of Central London Hospitals compared with Mumbai hospitals.
The noise levels in the vicinity of six Central London hospitals was measured on a typical working day in May 2017. All hospitals are located on busy roads with heavy level of traffic, Readings were taken on the street outside and in the entrance lobby. Maximum noise levels were noted over an elapse period of several minutes for each reading.
The noise level on the outside ranged from 62 to 88 dB. Inside the lobby the range was 56 to 74 dB. Noise levels of passing ambulances with their sirens on were also measured; the highest was 94 dB.
Hospital Noise level dB
UCH 83 56
St Mary’s 79 74
St Thomas’ 81 65
Guy’s 63 67
Royal London 82 71
London Clinic 88 67
Ambulance on road 94
Noise levels measured in the vicinity of six Mumbai Hospitals on a typical working day in May 2017 ranged from 95.1dB to 100.5 dB. Noise level of an ambulance in Mumbai was 100 dB, measured with the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board in 2014.
Hospital Noise level outside dB
Holy Family 97.4
The highest noise levels in London and in Mumbai was from traffic on roads outside the hospitals. In London, the sound was mainly of vehicles without horns and the maximum levels was 88dB. In Mumbai, due to constant honking, even the site where the lowest level of 95.1dB was recorded was higher than the highest in London. Maximum recorded level was 100.5dB. The decibel level of the ambulance was also higher in Mumbai at 100dB compared to 94dB in London.
Nigel Watts and Sumaira Abdulali
17th May 2017
982 15 20805
Hon'ble Chief Minister,Shri Prithviraj Chavan
Hon'ble Home Minister, Shri R R Patil
Mr. Chief Secretary, Shri Jayant Banthia
Madam Environment Secretary, Ms Valsa Nair Singh
Commissioner of Police, Mumbai, Shri Satya Pal Singh
Commissioner of Police Pune Shri Gulabrao Pol,
I refer to the piece in Times of India regarding extension of time beyond midnight for
traditional' instruments. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/Ganpati-festival-State-allows-Indian-instruments-beyond-deadline-on-3-immersion-days/articleshow/16288916.cms
I draw to your kind attention various Orders of the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India and the Bombay High Court which specifically disallow use of any sound producing instruments after 10 pm. The Supreme Court Order dated 17th July 2005 states in Directives II Loudspeakers: "No one shall beat a drum or tom-tom or blow a trumpet or beat or sound any instrument or use any sound amplifier at night (between 10pm and 6am) except in public emergencies." The Hon'ble Supreme Court's Order of October 2005 relaxes the time limit for loudspeaker use only, by allowing the State Government to notify a limited period of 2 hours (upto midnight) for a period not to exceed 15 days a year. Subsequently, this was further relaxed to allow the State Government to notify 12 days a year and 3 days at the discretion of local authorities. The Hon'ble Bombay High Court has also re iterated the implementation of Supreme Court Orders from time to time.
I hereby submit that any permissions for time extension beyond 10 pm for any instruments other than loudspeakers only would be in violation of the directives of the Hon'ble Supreme Court and the Bombay High Court and may be withdrawn immediately.
A link to noise measurements during the Ganpati Festival 2011
will confirm that during the extended time period 10pm to midnight, noise levels significantly exceeded permissible decibel levels. THe maximum recorded was 105 dB with loudspeakers and with use of traditional instruments but without loudspeakers, reached a levels of 88dB, which still far exceeds the maximum permissible limit after 10 pm. Awaaz Foundation will measures noise during the Ganpati Festival and periodically during the entire festival period 2012.
9th April 2015
The Municipal Commissioner,
C/o The Chief Engineer, Development Plan,
5th floor, Municipal Head Office,
Fort, Mumbai 400001
Subject Suggestions/Objection to Draft Development Plan 2034 – noise pollution
We have the following objections/suggestions to the Draft Development Plan of 2034. The concerns expressed in this letter are limited to the aspect of noise pollution in the DP area.
Noise pollution has been identified as a serious environmental and health hazard afflicting almost every citizen of Mumbai in one way or the other. The draft DP states:
16.1.2 They (Noise decibels) exceed the prescribed decibels at practically all over Mumbai in different area categories. The maximum noise levels are recorded in airport area. Besides the State Government strictly follows the norms of court by strictly keeping constant vigil and by attending noise nuisance complaints.
Mumbai is among the first Indian cities to undertake a pilot noise mapping project for some of its new infrastructure projects and the first to construct noise barriers to protect people living close to high density traffic from the ill effects of noise pollution. The conclusions that noise in the area around the airport is highest is based on the noise mapping study conducted for the airport area. While the high noise levels surrounding the airport are indisputable, it is impossible to conclude that the highest noise level in Mumbai are around the airport, since there is no comprehensive noise mapping study of the whole city with which the airport noise levels may be directly compared although spot studies do indicate the high noise levels all over the city.
Other areas with equally high noise levels from other sources require planning in a manner to protect the health and well being of residents from unhealthy levels of noise. This is particularly true since, during the festival season, apparently in spite of the efforts of the Government as stated in the draft DP, noise levels to which citizens are directly and unwillingly exposed regularly exceed the pain threshold of 120 dB. often even in the vicinity of hospitals including ICUs. At other time of years, varying sources of noise including from educational institutions and religious places violate noise pollution laws during the night and day periods and impromptu open air parties, weddings, political rallies, noise from hotels, bars and restaurants, construction, extra-loud horns on roads through sensitive areas etc violate prescribed decibel limits in all zones of the city.
Section 16.2.1. of the draft DP states:
16.2.1 MEIP had strongly suggested adopting an environmental management strategy and action plan. Environment planning seeks to build environmental concerns in the process of land use planning. Since the present development plan of Mumbai operative fro the period 1981 – 2000 did not have explicit role for environmental planning the same can now be done and enforced in respect of major development projects. Challenge is in implementing this without causing high additional costs and avoiding delays. In the next development plan of Mumbai, the environmental considerations in respect of all kinds of development should be in built
It is clear from the pilot studies on noise mapping already conducted by the BMC and the para above quoted from the draft DP that environmental concerns require to be built into land use planning. There is an urgent need to demarcate areas where recreational activities may safely take place and to build appropriate infrastructure to ensure that events generating high levels of noise pollution are appropriately zoned away from residential areas and Silence Zones such as hospitals. There is also an urgent need to ascertain effects on noise levels when changing Residential areas into Residential/Commercial areas and to change zoning only appropriately with the findings of the Noise Map. While demarcating any area as hawking zone, projected increase in noise levels need to be calculated and disclosed on the DP.
Environmental noise is one of the most serious health hazards afflicting citizens of Mumbai, one of the loudest cities in the world. We request that the DP should not be finalized without a comprehensive noise mapping study of Mumbai which is built into the land use planning of Mumbai and which suggests measures to decrease the high noise levels of Mumbai.
Thank you and with regards,
1. The Municipal Commissioner MCGM
Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai Municipal Head Office, Mahapalika Marg Mumbai-400 001.
2. Shri Yashodhar P. Phanse, Chairman Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai Municipal Head Office, Mahapalika Marg Mumbai-400 001