Horn not ok please

first_imgI think that the biggest side-effects of urban living in India are the ensuing health issues. There is perhaps no major city in India that allows for a healthy life. Today, we routinely speak of air pollution in Delhi NCR and the region’s transformation into a gas chamber. Many other Indian cities too have dangerous levels of air pollution. I don’t know if you have noticed but I have since I’m a sky-gazer i.e., I can spend hours looking at the sky. The hues are not the same as they used to be when we were kids in the 90s. That is the direct consequence of air pollution. The country is also reeling under water crisis with 21 cities likely to run out of water by 2020. There is another menace that we aren’t speaking about and I’d like to get the conversation started – the deafening silence surrounding noise pollution (pun intended) is surprising. Also Read – A special kind of bondAccording to reports, Delhi was the second-noisiest city in the world in 2017, preceded by Guangzhou and followed by Cairo and Mumbai. I won’t be surprised if more Indian cities find pride of place should the Worldwide Hearing Index survey other Indian cities such as Kolkata. Did you know that Delhiites have a hearing age similar to that of 20 years older! Which means that a 20-year-old has the hearing ability of a 40-year-old. And, Delhi and Mumbai can’t be the only loud cities. Incessant car honking in Kolkata can literally get onto your nerves! Also Read – Insider threat managementI’ll tell you what happens to me when I hear loud noises, mostly car horns. I immediately have headaches, feel dizzy, have trouble focussing on anything, and more often than not, I’m so stressed and anxious that I’m ready to physically pound the living daylights out of the miscreant who dares honk constantly. And there are thousands of such nincompoops on road every day. Perhaps the continuous honking has already turned them deaf so they just aren’t affected or bothered. The possibility of most of these honking traffic goons being deaf is quite plausible. The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that over 1 billion people risk permanent loss of hearing due to loud sounds, of which transport and automobile sounds occupy a considerable portion. The current permissible level for traffic noise is 53 decibels but it’s hardly implemented in any of the Indian metros. As per a 2014 report in the Indian Journal of Community Medicine, vehicular air horns were found to the primary contributor to noise pollution, day and night-time noise levels were found to be almost always well over the permissible limit, and alarmingly, the ambient noise levels in silence zones was found to go up to 90 dB when only 50 dB is allowed. Not to mention the other physiological effects of noise pollution – hypertension, high stress, tinnitus, hearing loss, sleep disorders among others. Obviously, animals suffer more than human beings. But in spite of all hazards surrounding this grave issue, there is barely any discussion surrounding this. Traffic police across cities never penalise rowdy, honking car drivers and bike riders. So, it was music to my ears when the Delhi police removed aftermarket loud exhausts from over 500 Royal Enfield motorcycles this month. Hopefully, traffic cops in other cities will also follow suit in maintaining proper silence zones near schools and colleges and also rounding up road Romeos who routinely make road travel a jarring experience. Hefty fines and monetary penalties must be levied on people who create noise pollution. But more needs to be done by the administration of various states as well as the Centre. There has to be an urgent rethink on the permissible sound limits; the current noise rules are almost 20 years old (Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000). Loudspeakers used at functions, political gatherings, and religious festivals must all follow permissible sound limits, otherwise, there should be a strict crackdown on those flouting rules. Most importantly, the central government should look at engaging automobile horn manufacturers and allowing only certain kinds of car horns that are within the allowed sound limit. Let’s not wake up to sound pollution only during Diwali; noise pollution is happening daily and it’s time to put the silencer on. (The writer is an author and media entrepreneur. The views expressed are strictly personal)last_img

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