Noise Pollution: When will the Government Wake Up?

Environmental News from India: Despite the well-established adverse effects of noise pollution on human health and life, widespread breach of decibel levels continues unabated.

In Mumbai, a luxury skyscraper coming up next door digs deep into the bedrock. Metal crushes rock, even while under-construction buildings like this one advertise happy children, blue skies, and birdsong. The advertisements say nothing of those who live in here and now of this to-be-utopia, forced to bear the health effects and disruption to their lives of noise pollution for months or years.

In March 2022, newly-appointed Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Pandey invited complaints on his own Whatsapp number. Among the first things he discovered was the severe impact of noise pollution on people. Within days of taking office, at his very first weekly Facebook live chat, he announced construction would not be permitted at night and on Sundays.

The government’s readiness to adjust and modify response strategies and maintain societal trust through principled decisions on noise pollution is being tested now. The BMC, while extending work timings for construction, acknowledged that noise reduction measures were available and promised to use them. Unfortunately, their own building permissions do not even mention noise abatement as a condition.

Without binding and enforceable restraints, builders have chosen not to invest in the welfare of their neighbors. Instead, to save their own costs, they have chosen to pass on the burden to ordinary people who are forced to invest individually in noise barriers like double-glazed windows and air conditioning. Those who cannot afford such expensive measures, or choose not to use them in deference to climate imperatives, suffer noise-related ailments like high blood pressure, hearing loss, diabetes, and mental health illness. They also pay through loss of productivity and extra doctor’s bills.

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Source: Forbes India

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