KOCHI: Though the National Green Tribunal had ordered the State Government to declare areas near hospitals, educational institutions and courts as silent zones that are free of honking in 2015, authorities are still sitting on the order.
On April 16, 2018, the stretch from Madhava Pharmacy to the Metro Station near Maharajas Colege was declared a honk-free silent zone, but loud noises from vehicles continue to plague the area.
"The initiative by the IMA was followed up with much fervour initially by the MVD Department, which led to authorities declaring it a no-horn area. The presence of hospitals in the area and the order by the NGT were the reasons why the road was declared honk-free. However, one year on, honking continues to be prevalent here. As per the order, the area within 100 perimeters of institutions like hospitals should be declared silent zone. There are 14 such institutions in Kochi, so if the order is implemented, the noise levels can be brought down hugely," said Dr V D Pradeep Kumar, IMA former president.
According to him, the NGT had given four months in 2015 to implement the order across the state. However, lack of will-power is one reason why authorities did not follow up on the initiative."The District Collector and MVD authorities have to take up the initiative. Though organisations like the IMA have been very vocal about the no-honk campaign, we are helpless when it comes to implementing the law," Dr Pradeep said.
The IMA had filed a case twice on this matter. In 2008, they had approached the High Court seeking to categorise of zones namely industrial, residential, commercial and silent, based on the noise levels. The same matter was again taken to Court in 2014. He says a two-day study was conducted last year by the National Initiative for Safe Sound (NISS) and IMA to study the after-effects of noise pollution in Kochi.
"A study among traffic police and bus drivers who were more prone to noise on roads showed that a large
section was suffering from hearing problems," Pradeep said.