Recently released United Nations Environment Programme report titled Annual Frontiers Report 2022 became controversial on account of the mention of a single city, Moradabad of Uttar Pradesh.
What is the controversy with this report?
The report has listed Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh as the second-noisiest city in the world. Other Indian cities which recorded a higher decibel than the permissible levels were Delhi, Kolkata and Asansol in West Bengal and Jaipur.
However, the inclusion of Moradabad as the second-noisiest city in the world appeared strange because:
- The first chapter of the report, called Frontiers 2022: Noise, Blazes and Mismatches, deals with noise.
- It compiles studies about noise levels in several cities around the world and illustrates a subset of 61 cities and the range of dB (decibel) levels that have been measured.
- Delhi, Jaipur, Kolkata, Asansol and Moradabad are the five Indian cities mentioned in this list and Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh was shown as having a dB range from 29 to 114.
- At a maximum value of 114, it was the second-most-noisiest city in the list. The first was Dhaka, Bangladesh at a maximum value of 119 dB.
- While road traffic, industry and high population density are well-known factors associated with high dB levels, the inclusion of Moradabad appeared strange because similar studies in the past had never suggested it to be an unusually noisy city.
- The noise indicators that the different studies/reports included weren’t “necessarily consistent/harmonised and it was generated simply as an example of the spread of noise values that different people have observed in different cities over time in different places.”
- Hence the report about Moradabad to be the ‘second-noisiest city’ was incorrect because the list of cities whose values were illustrated were only indicative.
Causes of Noise Pollution
Noise pollution has become a matter of concern due to the increasing noise around which is mainly caused by vehicles, aircraft, industrial machines, loudspeakers, crackers etc. and can have too many ill-effects on life. Some of the major sources that contribute to noise pollution are as follows:
- Industrialization: The growing industries in the urban areas are a major cause of noise pollution these days which uses various machines that are capable of generating a large amount of noise.
- Improper Planning of Urban Areas: Improper and poor urban planning plays a major role in creating noise pollution, mostly in developing countries due to congested houses, small space, poor parking facilities and frequent fights over basic amenities which disrupts the environment of society.
- Social Events: In several social events, songs are often played on full volume by the people which makes the living condition pretty worse thus creating noise pollution. Weddings, public gatherings involve loudspeakers to play music resulting in the production of unwanted noise in the neighbourhood.
- Vehicles and transportation: Increased number of vehicles on the roads is one of the reasons for noise pollution. For example, traffic jams, underground trains, aircraft, etc produces heavy noise which may lead to a situation of hearing disability.
- Construction Sites: Various construction activities which include mining, construction of bridges, dams, buildings, etc contributes greatly to creating noise pollution.
Noise pollution and public health
- Unwanted, prolonged and high-level sounds from road traffic, railways, or leisure activities impair human health and well-being.
- This includes chronic annoyance and sleep disturbance, resulting in severe heart diseases and metabolic disorders such as diabetes, hearing impairment, and poorer mental health.
- Particularly affected are the very young, the elderly and marginalized communities near high traffic roads, and industrial areas and far from green spaces.
- A study in Korea showed that a 1 decibel increase in daytime sound increased the risk of cardio (heart) and cerebrovascular (related to blood flow to the brain) diseases by 0.17 to 0.66 per cent
- It is also a threat to animals, altering communications and the behaviour of various species, including birds, insects, and amphibians.
What is India Doing about Noise Pollution?
- The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is mandated to track noise levels, set standards as well as ensure, via their State units, that sources of excessive noise are controlled.
- The agency has a manual monitoring system where sensors are installed in major cities and few cities have the facility to track noise levels in real time.
What are the Laws related to Noise Pollution in India?
- Noise pollution is regulated separately under the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000.
- Earlier, noise pollution and its sources were addressed under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
- Additionally, noise standards for motor vehicles, air-conditioners, refrigerators, diesel generators and certain types of construction equipment are prescribed under the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986.
- Noise emanating from industry is regulated by State Pollution Control Boards / Pollution Control Committees (SPCBs / PCCs) for states / Union territories under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
Source: The Hindu