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January 27, 2013

Rules on paper, city stays noisy

Pollution Board Has Five Monitoring Centres, Three In Quiet Localities

New Delhi:Some would say it is the quintessential Punjabi spirit while others argue it is a pan-Indian streak but what can’t be denied is that we are a very loud people. The National Green Tribunal has issued an order to curb noise pollution in the capital, execution of which is mandatory for Delhi Pollution Control Committee. However, though something like excessive honking is already a compoundable offence, officials say it is a challenge to implement this order. 
    Delhi has five noise monitoring stations, two are located deep inside educational campuses and one in a residential area. Only two, at Pragati Maidan and Central Pollution Control Board’s Karkardooma office, are close to traffic points. Sources say that for a city the size of Delhi, five instruments are not enough and only three effectively indicate actual noise pollution levels. Another five are in the pipeline but CPCB sources say installation will take at least six months. 
    “The ones at DTU, Dilshad Garden and NSIT normally record noise levels below the standard about 80% of the time. Noise levels at Pragati Maidan are usually higher than the standard while those at CPCB peak with traffic,” said a CPCB official. 
    Another system exists at IGI but in absence of standards for aircraft, maintaining the record is pointless. Residents of Vasant Kunj took the matter to court after the new 
runway opened which placed the colony right in the middle of aircraft path. 
    Central Road Research Institute carried out a study of noise levels in Delhi in 2012 and found that trucks are the biggest source of noise pollution. At most of the 100 places surveyed, the decibel range was between 78 and 83. This, said a CRRI scientist, is almost 16 times more than permissible level. 
    “The noisiest area surveyed was the marble market in Kirti Nagar where 125 decibels were recorded. Meena Ba
zar in Jama Masjid recorded a high of 102.8 decibels. Anand Vihar ISBT and the Sangam Vihar bus stop in south Delhi recorded 108 and 114 decibels, respectively,” said a 2011 report published by Centre for Science and Environment. 
    The NGT order addresses the problem of traffic, interstate vehicles and trucks and lists specific procedures for DPCC, Delhi Police, traffic police and transport department. Delhi government sources claim these are not easy to follow. “A fine of Rs 100 exists for excessive honking. 
We have been asking for it to be increased for several months. Even so, a honking culture exists in Delhi and it is impossible to take action against everyone,” said a traffic cop. 
    All of us who have ever travelled on Delhi’s roads have experienced this culture. The first horn is honked in the first millisecond of the red light turning green by the car standing sixth in line. Come wedding season and those who live around DDA parks can barely get any sleep. No loud music or loudspeakers are permitted between 10pm and 
6am but dancing into the night is the done thing. “Sometimes action is taken but that generally means the volume being lowered slightly,” Pratima Ghosh of Patparganj said. 
    The NGT order for the transport department and traffic police includes checking and prohibiting entry of heavy vehicles fitted with pressure horns in Delhi. “It’s wellintentioned but not very practical. The most practical of all orders is setting up a 24x7 call centre for complaints which will be done at the earliest,” a government source said.

Source: TOI (26 Jan, 2013) 

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