Should more Indian cities adopt 'Honk More, Wait More'?
Recently, the Mumbai Police introduced a scheme to discipline reckless honkers at traffic signals: 'Honk More, Wait More'. Basically, the signal will remain 'red' (stop) as long as the decibel levels continue to be above 85dB. Since then, Hyderabad and Bengaluru Police have displayed an interest in replicating the scheme to reduce noise pollution. But noise pollution is not just a Mumbai problem.
The latest available dataset on noise pollution across major Indian cities, published in 2018 by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), found Chennai the noisiest. The CPCB monitored ambient noise across seven major cities—Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai, Lucknow, and Hyderabad—with 10 monitoring stations each. The data monitored noise levels across four categories of zones: industrial (usually the noisiest), commercial, residential, and silence (quietest).
LiveMint recently compiled and tabulated the hefty dataset. In Chennai, the 10 monitoring stations recorded an average day-time ambient noise of 67.8dB, which dropped to 64dB at night. The day/night time data for the remaining cities are as follows: Hyderabad (67.1dB/62.3dB), Kolkata (66.6dB/63.5dB), Bengaluru (64.9dB/60.5dB), Mumbai (64.3dB/60.2dB) and Delhi (61.3db/57dB). You can view a graphic representation here: https://bit.ly/2u1dF30.
LiveMint reported that almost every region in the cities violated noise pollution standards. The standard for industrial zones is 75dB; for commercial zones, it is 65dB; for residential zones, it is 55dB; and for silence zones, it is 50dB. At 79dB, Hyderabad's Paradise junction was notably the loudest across metros. The quietest zone was Mumbai's ASHP Hospital: 54dB, which still violates its 50dB standard.
Loudness is measured in decibels on a logarithmic scale and not a linear scale. Hence, it is important to note that a 10dB increase implies twice the perceived loudness. In other words, 60dB would be twice as loud as 50dB.
Noise pollution is known to have a severe impact on hearing, especially on children and the elderly. It can also aggravate stress, and in children, it may impair cognitive development. A 2011 World Health Organization study linked noise pollution to increased risk of heart diseases and greater stress-related mental health risks. It also impacts the quality of sleep, hurting productivity and subsequently, the economy.
Convenor at Awaaz Foundation (NGO against noise pollution), Sumaira Abdulai, hailed 'Honk More, Wait More', LiveMint reported. Abdulai said, "There also has to be enforcement like there is for other issues like drinking and driving, and wearing seat belts," suggesting financial penalties for reckless honking. She added, "Only initiatives like these can prove to be a solution for noise pollution in the long run."