Data shows that noise levels in Bengaluru, particularly in silent zones, are higher than the prescribed limits.
“Five ones are five, five twos are ten, and five threes are…” Nitya came to a halt as she heard an ambulance trying to make its way past a never-ending trail of honking and continuous moving vehicles on the Mysuru Road.
“The vehicular traffic is constantly moving and with that honking is also continuous, which bothers the students,” said Varadharaj, headmaster of a government school on the Mysuru Road. The school is 200 meters away from the Nayandahalli metro station and Varadharaj said that, “Even though the metro sound is bearable, it contributes to the traffic noise.” The noise level in several areas like these is much higher than the permitted limits.
The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) had installed ten noise monitoring stations in commercial, residential, and industrial areas, six of which show that the noise was several decibels higher than prescribed both during the day and at night in January 2022.
According to a KSPCB official, the noise level on Mysuru Road has increased by 92 percent due to the metro construction near Rashtriya Vidyalaya College of Engineering (RVCE), and the incessant traffic. The KSPCB has notified the administration, requesting them to investigate the problem and take necessary steps.
The KSPCB monitors noise levels at the Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) and RVCE, Mysuru Road, which are both noise-sensitive (silent) zones. In January, the noise level at NIMHANS increased by 19.4 per cent during the day and 48 per cent at night, as recorded by the sensor.
“The noise from the main road outside the hospital affects the buildings adjacent to the road as it has continuous moving traffic,” a NIMHANS employee said.
Afsar, an ambulance driver who works more than 16-20 hours in a day said, “The traffic levels were low during the lockdown and the weekend curfew, but after the restrictions were removed, the traffic levels have shot up. Although traffic and noise levels are reduced to some extent at night, it still prevails.”
The KSPCB officials are taking measures to address this problem. “Wherever there is a rise in noise pollution we inform the authorities concerned, especially the police department of that area to curb the noise pollution. The main source of noise pollution in our city is vehicle movement”, said an official.
The map shows increased noise levels at night in Bengaluru in January 2022.
Recently the police served notice upon Dodda Ganapati Temple in Bengaluru and a few other religious places for crossing the decibel limits. The notice read, “If the decibel sound from the temple is more than the below-mentioned numbers, a case will be lodged under Noise Pollution (Regulation & Control) Rules, 2000 amended, 2010 & Environment Protection Act.”
An official at the The Hindu Dharmika Hagu Dharmadhaya Datthi—earlier known as MuzraiIlake—department responsible for the administration of temples in the state said, “The police have withdrawn the notice after we replied to them that the noise of the bells and other sounds in and around the temples are within the prescribed limits. We have given a reply and the matter is closed.”
Experts suggest that strict action has to be taken against people who harm the community for their own pleasure by honking unnecessarily. Dr. Yellapa Reddy, an environmentalist, said, “The noise pollution is a silent killer and it is definitely increasing. The vehicles make noise higher than the permissible limits with people honking for no reason. The decibel levels are increasing in the city and the government should take necessary actions to mitigate it. Even after warning and taking necessary steps if there is no change then it’s high time to take action..”