The entire city was exposed to almost double the level of permitted decibel sound on October 19 during both day and night. The decibel levels measured by the Rajasthan Pollution Control Board (RPCB) says that the worst-affected were silent zones—Civil Lines and Santokba Durlabji Hospital (SDM) zones. Both these zones registered 77.9 and 84.7 decibels, respectively, against the standard 40, says RPCB which released the report on Wednesday.
The RPCB measures Noise pollution at six zones with two each in silent, commercial and residential categories. While Civil Lines and SDM are silent zones, Mansarovar and Raja Park are in the commercial category, and Jawahar Nagar and Gandhi Nagar in the residential category.
The Chauti Chaupar zone, which covers most of the Walled City area, has been omitted this year due to the ongoing construction of the Metro line.
Noise pollution levels have risen from previous years, exposing the slew of efforts claimed by different agencies of the state to reduce the same. Firecrackers have been blamed for high decibel levels along with loud music played at several places on Diwali. RPCB officials, however, claimed that the noise pollution was not restricted to Diwali, Ganpati festival or Muharram. “It’s becoming a daily affair,” says a RPCB official.
Dr Tarun Ojha, ENT head of a private medical college in the city, said, “I received at least seven cases during Diwali facing difficulties in hearing due to acoustic trauma caused by loud sound of crackers. Two of them have suffered from sensorineural hearing loss. Now, it’s difficult for them to recover. Exposure to sudden single sound of more than 140 decibels causes damages to ear drums. If it damages the cochlear, then it’s not possible to repair the same.”
The high decibel sound in silent zones is a cause of concern, feel experts. It goes on unabated despite laws in place under the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000. It clearly states that, “no horn shall be used in silent zones or during night time in residential areas except during a public emergency”. Hospitals, schools and verified government buildings fall under the category of silent zones. It also has the provision to prosecute offenders. A complaint can be filed at the police station.
The rules also define the role of state as a competent body to take, “measures for abatement of noise, including noise emanating from vehicular movements, blowing of horns, bursting of sound emitting firecrackers, use of loudspeakers or public address system and sound producing instruments and ensure that the existing noise levels do not exceed the ambient air quality standards specified”. Several reports have estimated that almost 6% Indians suffer from hearing loss. It also says that the continuous exposure of noise above 60 decibels is harmful not only for hearing but also causes serious health problems—deafness, sleep disorders, etc.
As per a report, one kg of crackers burns 2kg of oxygen to release toxic gases. These include nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, CO2 and heavy metal oxides. “These are harmful and can aggravate respiratory diseases such as asthma, rhinitis, COPD, etc., even in healthy persons. Cracker fumes are dangerous for the old. During the last 3-4 days, I have across dozens of patients whose respiratory condition have worsened with cracker pollution,” says Dr Virendra Singh, former superintendent and respiratory diseases specialist, Sawai Man Singh Hospital.
What made the situation worse is the high air pollution level of 496 index value, measured in ‘Particle Matter 10’ (particles smaller than 10 microns), recorded in VKIA area followed by the densely-polluted Chandpole area with an index value of 483 PM10, as per figures released by the pollution control board.
Jaipur is quickly progressing towards becoming a ‘noisy city’. Both the administration and civil society, the two main stakeholders, have been callous and turned a blind eye to the rising noise pollution which is gradually turning into a health hazard. The administration can take a slew of measures under the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules 2000 and prosecute offenders. But action has been selective or rare. In the absence of awareness drives, the civil society tolerates noise pollution of all sorts from their backyard to the roads. The state has to take the citizens along and launch mass awareness campaigns to fight the menace. The figures released by the Rajasthan Pollution Control Board (RPCB), which shows all the six zones of having registered high decibel levels, are ominous for the city.
Source : timesofindia