A blaring sound box at a Puja pandal in Doranda, Ranchi, on Saptami
A festive capital is getting noisier by the year.
Figures tabled by Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board (JSPCB), which mapped noise levels this Durga Puja between October 3 and 5 at 19 key areas of Ranchi, revealed that most places showed an uptrend in noise pollution. Diwali being a week away, all eyes and ears of the board are peeled for more noise.
Unlike Diwali, where crackers make themselves noisily heard, loudspeakers were the Durga Puja decibel demons.
Though Puja organisers did adhere to norms and played only religious songs, they forgot to turn down the volume. Also, frequent public announcements and chanting of religious mantras through loudspeakers were much louder than the norms.
According to benchmarks set by JSPCB and supposed to be implemented by Ranchi district administration, decibel cut-offs are 55, 65 and 75 across residential, non-residential and industrial areas.
Prolonged exposure to more noise is harmful for health, causing hearing impairment, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, sleep disturbance and psychological trauma.
To cite one instance of norms flouted, the noise-o-meter at CMPDI area on Saptami, October 3, was 99.4db.
Other deafening areas were Birsa, Albert Ekka and Kantatoli chowks, Hatia Market and Lalpur (see chart). Hatia, though noisy at 91.1db, however, was a shade quieter than last year, when it touched 94.7db.
On saptami, CMPDI area hit a deafening 99.4 decibels (db) as against its normal 65db during 4.10pm to 4.15pm. Its follower Birsa Chowk did the same with 88db as against the normal of 65db during 12.50pm to 12.55pm on the same day on October 3.
CMPDI decibel dipped to 87.5db on Ashtami, October 4, but peaked at Hatia Market at 91.9db. On Navami, the maximum noise was recorded at Kantatoli Chowk (92.8db), which a day before was 77.8db.
In all the areas, 65db was the permissible limit.
Revelry, however, was within limit in places such as Tupudana, Project Building, Ashok Nagar and HEC area.
Residential areas like Ashok Nagar too crossed its 55db limit, going up to 57.4db on Saptami and 62.6db on Ashtami, though it remained within limit on 51.4db on Navami. Sector 3 of HEC managed to be quiet at 52.8 db on Saptami, 54.6db on Ashtami and 47.9db on Navami.
The JSPCB mapped decibels at Tupudana, Hatia Market, Project Building area, Birsa Chowk, Doranda, Sujata Cinema area, GEL Church area, Kantatoli Chowk, Lalpur Chowk, Albert Ekka Chowk, Kutchery Chowk, RIMS area, in and around Raj Bhavan and CMPDI, Ratu Road, Argora, Ashok Nagar, Mecon Colony and HEC, Sector 3.
Armed with these findings, S.K. Sinha, JSPCB member secretary, urged people to celebrate more quietly in view of the upcoming celebrations. Our role is advisory only. Residents have to celebrate responsibly. The report will be sent to Central Pollution Control Board for further action, he said, adding that the board started mapping noise pollution during Puja last year.
We had asked Puja organisers to pay attention to noise level. But, it was probably not kept by some. We will look into the matter, said Chanchal Chatterjee, working president of Maha Nagar Durga Puja Committee.
Should we allow noise to ruin our festivals?