Sounded out: Pressure horns on sale at a outlet in Bistupur, Jamshedpur. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Pressure horns that emit ear-piercing sounds are the cool, young way to make their presence heard on roads, feel Jamshedpur vehicle owners. Never mind that both the Supreme Court and Motor Vehicles Act (1988) have banned their use as the noise is extremely harmful to health.
But business is brisk and no one — buyers, sellers and authorities including East Singhbhum district administration, traffic police and Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board — gives a hoot.
The air pressure and double-sound electronic horns come in pairs, emitting variable frequencies of 300Hz and 400Hz. Available in auto parts stores anywhere for Rs 500 to Rs 1,150, youths pick them up for their bikes and four-wheelers to honk their way past traffic, leaving fellow commuters reeling.
“Sudden noises increase blood pressure and heartbeat. Regular exposure causes deafness,” Nirmal Kumar, department head of medicine, MGM Medical College and Hospital, said.
The Supreme Court rule 119 has banned the use of hooters and pressure horns within a 100m radius around hospitals, schools, traffic signals, at road jams, residential and commercial areas and institutions. It has virtually hounded them out of cities, at least on paper. Using pressure horns is also an offence under section 190 (2) of Motor Vehicles Act (1988).
But each of the 40-odd auto spares stores in the city sells around three air pressure horns on a daily basis. “Pressure horns are found in pairs of high and low sounds that distinguish them from normal horns. The price ranges from Rs 500- Rs 1,150. We sell two-three pairs a day,” said Sushil Kumar, owner of Dua Automobiles in Bistupur.
Authorities are aware of their rampant use but do nothing.
“More than 60 percent of noise pollution on roads is due to horns. We regularly report our findings to the state pollution control board and East Singhbhum district administration. But the district administration has to act. We are ready to conduct noise pollution checks at major thoroughfares whenever the administration asks us,” said R.N. Choudhary, regional officer of Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board.
East Singhbhum district transport officer George Kumar admitted to having received complaints against pressure horns in residential areas.
“First-time offenders will be fined Rs 1,000, while those caught again must shell out Rs 2,000. We will curb the menace of pressure horns after consulting district police and pollution control board officials,” he said.
Good resolutions have not appeared on the road. A crackdown on selling, buying and using pressure horns, with spot fines and other immediate deterrents is sorely needed, but the will to implement them seems to be drowned in loud honks.
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