Mumbai: Residents of 2nd Cross Road in Mahim, just a few lanes ahead of St Michael’s Church, are being subjected to noise levels as high as 129dB coming from a nearby construction site. One of the residents who has been severely affected is Penelope Tong, a fieldwork supervisor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), who is visually disabled and relies on talking software to conduct her work.Despite writing seven representations to the Mahim police, two to the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and appeals to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) ward office, Tong says she has seen little respite from the din of construction work, which began in January.In early March, anti-noise campaigner Sumaira Abdulali visited Tong’s residence, where she recorded a noise reading of 97.2db, significantly higher than 65db limit set by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).Since then, readings taken by the police and the developer have shown noise levels between 88db to 129db, the latter being the highest recorded.“When I first started complaining about the noise levels to the builder, the site in-charge asked me to bear for only two months more, as that is when the plinth work will get done. I am sight-impaired and I was unable to work because I couldn’t hear my talking software. My work was severely disrupted and I had to put in extended hours so as to be able to concentrate and complete work,” said Tong, who also complained of an uptick in dust pollution around her house owing to construction work. In a recent letter to the deputy commissioner of police, Mumbai, Tong wrote, “The noise is a continuing source of disturbance and distress, preventing people from concentrating while working from home, preventing the elderly from resting, disturbing the animals, and generally disrupting the environment. It has become extremely difficult to maintain a functional frame and state of mind with the repeated violation of the pollution limits.”On January 28, 35 residents from the area submitted a similar representation to the police.“The police are empowered to take action against noise violations, especially when they can be pinpointed to specific sources like construction sites. The noise levels around them often range between 90db to 100db, which can severely affect the quality of life for nearby residents. Under the leadership of the new police commissioner, Sanjay Pandey, there has been a concerted push to take action against noise violators, and I hope this is taken up seriously across the city,” said Abdulali.Addressing the press conference this week, Pandey told the media that he has been meeting with the city’s developers and will mandate the installation of noise cutters at all construction sites. The police is also considering taking bonds from developers under the Criminal Procedure Code to ensure that noise at construction sites is kept within permissible limits, he added.Sanjay Kadam, police inspector, Mahim station, said, “We have sent a notice to the builder and will record the complainant’s statement in a day or two. The builder is putting up a 20-story structure and it is not possible at all times to keep the noise levels low, but we are trying to help Penelope Tong as best as we can.”Know about levels of noiseThe sound of ambient traffic ranges between 70dB and 80dB and is considered to be “loud”, while 120dB is closer to the sound a commercial airliner makes while taking off and is considered to be “very loud”. The human threshold for pain is marked at 130dB, over and above which even incidental exposure to loud noises can cause lasting damage to hearing. Prolonged exposure to noise levels around 120dB can also cause lasting hearing damage, in addition to increasing blood pressure and triggering headaches.