BENGALURU: In spite of repeated complaints from Indiranagar residents on noise pollution by pubs on the busy 80 and 100 feet roads, the BBMP-KSPCB-city police triad fails to keep it quiet.
Residents say that the pollution control board does not seem to have enough noise dosemeters (device needed to record decibel levels) but the board officials say that there are enough devices and what they need is a permanent control room, which can act immediately when complaints are raised. Corporation officials say that only pollution control has dosemeters, and it would help if the city police and BBMP staffers had them as well.
Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986, formulated by Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, has set permissible limits of noise for residential area at 55 decibels (dB) and 45 decibels, during the day and night respectively. In 2005, Supreme Court banned playing of music on loudspeakers after 10 pm. With such strict laws, one wonders what keeps the administration from acting against the noisy pubs in Indiranagar.
Disappointed by officials' apathy over his complaints on noise pollution, Raj Kumar Pillai, a resident of Indiranagar II Stage filed a case against the State of Karnataka, Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, Joint Comissioner, BBMP and Deputy Commissioner of Police in Bengaluru to curb the noise menace from a nearby open-air bar. Following this, the Karnataka High Court directed the BBMP to ascertain the level of noise pollution and and to take action against the bar if violations are found.
Nine months later, there has been no action and the bar continues to blast loud music until 1 am, informs Pillai. There are over 90 pubs in Indiranagar, informs Praveen S, another Indiranagar resident. “That is the highest density of pubs in a residential area in the country,” he adds.
How can BBMP give licence for commercial establishments to function in an open terrace, asks Praveen. “All the open air bars/pubs are illegal,” he says. Pillai questions why city police keeps from shutting the pubs down.The only authority allowed to have authorised noise monitoring device to measure the noise pollution is the KSPCB. “But the board does not have enough devices,” says Ashok Sarath, resident of Defence colony. The board, however, only measures and issues a statement on the legal limit and the decibel measured to the complainant. "Following this, the residents reach out to the BBMP and the city police for further action," says Ashok.
The noise is at its peak on Thursday (ladies nights), Friday and Saturday nights, says Ashok. “I can hear EDM music from the pub, which is almost 100 metres away from my house. Those who live closeby are vexed by the loud music and those who are screaming on top of this music while dancing,” he says.
While pubs are expect to close by 1am, the noise doesn't quite die down. “The loudspeakers then make way for the blaring horns of cabs waiting to pick people up from these pubs,” he says. For residents around 80 and 100 feet Road, a good night's sleep waits until 2am.
KSPCB has 16 authorised noise monitoring devices, says Nagappa, KSPCB official. “And that's enough number of devices... Bengaluru needs only 14,” says Dr Jayaprakash Alva, ex-officio member of the KSPCB. According to him the problem lies in the board not having a permanent control room for pollution. “By the time the KSPCB comes to know of the noise pollution, the pub also gets tipped off on our officials being on the way. They turn it down for that night,” he says, explaining the difficulties of enforcing the rules.
The board completely relies on the information they get from complainants, says Rajashekhar, regional officer, Indiranagar, KSPCB. “If there was a control room to receive complaints, then the team could mobilise the area officers immediately to avoid the pub being tipped off on the team that is on its way,” says Alva.Rajashekhar, who says he is new to the area affirms that every complaint will be acted on, but it is the BBMP that needs to take the enforcement activities further.Dr Ashok Additional/Joint comissioner, BBMP East zone that every noise pollution complaint is brought to the notice of the
KSPCB first and then the local body gets the city police involved whenever necessary.
With the rise in noise pollution complaints he plans to initiate ‘surprise check at pubs to keep a check’. “As the city police and the local administration is remotely located and are the first respondents to the site, it would help if they too have noise monitoring device to register the complaint,” says Ashok.