Aug. 9: The eastern zonal bench of the National Green Tribunal today asked the state environment department and the pollution control board to "monitor and control" use of loudspeakers during the coming festival season. The order was passed in response to a petition filed by environmentalist Subhas Datta.
The bench, comprising Justice S.P. Wangdi and expert member P.C. Mishra, has also asked the environment and transport departments to undertake awareness campaigns using radio and TV and train drivers of commercial vehicles to reduce noise pollution, particularly honking, in silence zones besides putting up adequate signage in these areas.
Silence zones are areas within a 100m radius of hospitals and schools and courts while in operation.
The bench has also asked the state to consider stringent fines for unnecessary honking as has been implemented in Maharashtra.
The directive was passed when the state pollution control board submitted to the bench a report that shows both day (6am to 10pm) and night (10pm to 6am) ambient noise levels near 10 major hospitals to be around 20 decibel higher than the nationally permissible limits of 50 and 40 decibel respectively. The noise level was measured by the state pollution control board round the clock over a 10-day period recently. An increase of 10 decibel could mean doubling of sound pressure on ears, experts said.
The report, a copy of which is with Metro, shows that SSKM, Calcutta Medical College and Ruby are in the noisiest areas. The noise is mostly caused by vehicles.
"The environment department and the state Pollution Control Board should control rampant blaring of microphones during the festive season," the bench said when petitioner Datta pointed out that loudspeakers were a source of inconvenience for many.
"While giving permission to Puja committees, the administration, particularly police, should take an undertaking that the organisers will abide noise norms" Datta told Metro.
Metro had reported in May how data generated by the Central Pollution Control Board at eight automatic noise measurement stations in the city from April 10 to 16 this year found that the noise levels had crossed permissible limits both during the day and at night.