With Diwali coming closer, there are many people who are worried about the noise pollution that they will have to bear. But then these could be among a majority of people who cause the same nuisance throughout the year. Well, these are Bangalore's honkers.
And nothing much has been done about them, though there are a few NGOs who are doing their bit along with the traffic police.
For a year and a half now, a non-profit civic agency, JOY has been tirelessly working in the background to counter the noise pollution menace in the city. Headed by Ravi Shankar, who also serves as an advisor to the Traffic Police, the organisation carries out a 'No Honk Monday' campaign, that has become quite popular over the last year. "Thousands of people know about the campaign now. I also conduct awareness workshops in IT companies and other organisations, where I speak to them about the harmful effects of noise pollution and the dangers of incessant honking," says Shankar. According to him, the noise levels in areas like Hudson Circle, Jayanagar, KR Circle, etc. have reduced considerably on Mondays, thanks to the campaign. Even main road like Hosur Road and entry points like Nelamangala have recorded reduced noise level.
Global Initiative for Restructuring Environment and Management (GIREM), an NGO which works closely with the Bangalore Traffic Police has also started the 'I won't honk' campaign. The supporters of the campaign, for which Rahul Dravid is the ambassador, allows users to take a pledge not to honk unnecessarily, either by registering themselves on the group's website www.iwonthonk.com or by giving a missed call to 080-30068638.
A similar campaign was initiated by Karnataka State Pollution Control Board and the Samvaad Institute of Speech and Hearing, earlier this year in April.
The campaign died out after a few months, citing lack of funds and resources. However, during the period of the campaign, which started in November 2012 and went on till June 2013, a significant decrease in noise levels was recorded in specific areas around Koramagala.
Samvaad Institute of Speech and Hearing (SISH) has been part of noise awareness campaigns in the city for the past 8 years.
"Noise can cause permanent hearing loss, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, tinnitus, sleep disturbance, vasoconstriction and other cardiovascular adverse effects. Beyond these effects, elevated noise levels can create stress, attention deficit, increase workplace accident rates, as well as stimulate aggression and other anti-social behaviors," says Radhika Poovayya, Director, SISH. According to her, noise induced hearing loss is entirely preventable, by taking the following precautions.
"Identify which noises can cause damage (those above 85 decibels), including jet engines, motorcycles, chainsaws, personal listening devices, etc. and regulate their use. All vehicles should be tested to ensure that noise levels are within permissible limits. Use of public address systems should be regulated. Honking of vehicles near school, residential areas and hospital zones should be prohibited. Small scale industries such as rice mills and weaving industries should not be located in residential areas. These measures will definitely help control the situation," she says.
About measures to control noise pollution in the city, additional commissioner of police (traffic) B Dayananda said, "It's usually KSPCB that keeps tab of the pollution levels, but we deal with shrill horns and defective silencers. The penalty for these two offenses is `100."
He added that while the traffic police is doing its bit, reduction of noise pollution levels also depends on civic awareness. "That's why we have introduced awareness programmes, which we promote on Facebook, and also the 'No Honking Day' every Monday. The idea is that when they practice not to honk on Mondays, it will gradually become a habit and extend to other days as well," he said.
A traffic police official who mans a junction on J C road said that while the air pollution that he is exposed to bothers him, he has become habituated to the noise that he is exposed to on a daily basis.
"After a while, it becomes almost addictive," he added.
In a study conducted by Janaagraha to measure the quality of life in every ward of Bangalore, it was found that of the permitted decibel levels of 45-55 dB in residential and 55-65 dB in commercial locations, all 198 wards measured an average dB level between 60 and 90 dB.
According to the study, wards Horamavu (no. 25) and A Narayanapura (no. 56), are the only wards in the entire city, that don't cross the stipulated noise levels.
So while efforts are at an all time high to curb the nuisance, the noise pollution menace still lurks at every corner.