Checking on Noise Pollution in India

Noise pollution can be defined as the propagation of noise with harmful impact on the activity of human health and environmental quality. According to the WHO, exposure of more than 8 hours to sound levels beyond 85 decibels (dB) may be hazardous.

Noise pollution can result in various health hazards like hypertension, healing loss, sleep disturbances, cardiovascular dysfunctions and dementia.

Checking on Noise Pollution in India

Section 2 (a) of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 includes noise in the definition of pollutants.
Noise pollution control rules have been framed in the amended Environment protection act, 1996. It specifies the standards for different places.
National Green Tribunal (NGT) in March 2019, directed the Central Pollution control board (CPCB) to prepare a noise pollution map and a remedial action plan. It had also asked upon the police department in all states to procure sound monitoring devices and assist pollution control authorities to mitigate noise pollution. However, these standards have remained on paper and states need to ensure their effective implementation.
Recently, Delhi has asked all DMs and the police to ensure that Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 are followed in spirit. The government looks to install sound limiter devices at private functions to monitor decibel levels if the the audio exceeds a pre-set level of volume, which would lead to cut off the power supply. Religious processions or marriages wouldn’t be able to play loud music in residential areas. The government looks to enforce a Rs. 10000 fine along with seizure of loudspeaker. Looking at the increased incidences of health problems, states need to follow Delhi’s footsteps.

Next steps

The strategies to tackle noise pollution should be situation specific and cover measures ranging from creating awareness to punitive action.
Religious bodies need to be sensitised about the ill effects of loud sound to instil a change.
Awareness campaign for youth, who face the greatest risk of irreversible hearing damage should be targeted specifically.
Unlike air and water pollution, noise pollution remains largely unaddressed, thus pollution control bodies need to treat it on par with other kinds of pollution.

Question for UPSC Mains:
India has rules to track noise levels , but these are observed more in flouting than implementation. Comment.

Published: December 17, 2019 | Modified:October 15, 2020