Most parts of Delhi in grip of noise pollution

The Times of India , Thursday, November 14, 2013
Correspondent : Jayashree Nandi
NEW DELHI: While dense smog and air pollution worry Delhiites, a rather loud aspect of pollution is being overlooked. A recent case in the National Green Tribunal shows that noise exceeds the safety standard in most parts of the capital.

Roadside noise levels near Panchsheel Park are found to be higher than the permissible limit, Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) told the green body recently. While the noise level on the road is about 73 leq dBA (linear equivalent decibel on A scale), the permissible limit is only 55 leq dBA.

The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by one Omesh Saigal - a resident of the colony - after he alleged that noise pollution arising out of heavy traffic on Outer Ring Road is affecting the health of the area residents.

Sources, however, say that Panchsheel Park is not the only place with this worrying trend. Sandeep Mishra, member secretary, DPCC, said that most residential and commercial areas in Delhi have noise levels higher than the permissible limit. "The noise pollution trends are upwards in almost all locations, so it would be difficult to say which areas are worst affected," he added.

In 1998, DPCC had done an extensive study of 102 locations in Delhi, 56 of which were residential areas. "Only two or three locations had met the standards then. The levels have obviously increased now," another DPCC official said, adding that day-time noise levels are around or more than 70 leq dBA in most residential areas.

This month's Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data shows that noise levels are quite high near ITO and CPCB office in east Arjun Nagar. The levels near Dilshad garden and NSIT campus, Dwarka were slightly above the prescribed limit. In 2011, Centre for Science and Environment had found extremely high noise levels in areas like marble market in Keerti Nagar - 125 leq dBA; Meena Bazar, Jama Masjid - 103 leq dBA; Anand Vihar - 108 leq dBA; Sangam Vihar-114 leq dBA. These areas are not monitored by CPCB or DPCC.

Saigal's petition has sought installation of screens along both sides of the road to block the noise. Following this, the bench directed DPCC to file a report on noise levels in Panchsheel Park and asked the traffic police to find out if there is a way to regulate movement of heavy vehicles there. It has also directed PWD to provide sound barriers on the road adjoining the colony.

Experts say that noise pollution needs immediate attention but our policies do not focus on regulating noise. "Our monitoring or actions cater to specific events like festivals or events. Noise leads to a range of health impacts starting from hearing issues to cardiovascular conditions. Unfortunately, our urban design also doesn't factor in the need for noise barriers," said Anumita Roy Chowdhury, executive director, research and advocacy, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

At present, DPCC doesn't have the infrastructure to monitor data in real time. "We will upgrade our infrastructure in a few months so that even noise pollution can be assessed in real-time. The best way to deal with this pollution is to use good double-glazed glass for windows or sound barriers. The levels are higher at Panchsheel Park probably because of its proximity to the flyover," said M P George, senior scientist, air and water lab, DPCC.


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