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The Legal Analyst ISSN: 2231-5594 Volume 1, 2011, pp.

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EFFECTS OF NOISE POLLUTION IN INDIA- A RETROSPECTIVE ANALYSIS


Sanjoy Deka*
Abstract: With the advancement of science & technology and the population explosion in all the spheres have given the momentum to the growth of industries and hence, the pace of urbanization. Human activities such as urbanization, transportation, wars, bomb blast by terrorist, and celebration of a variety of festivals are the main cause of noise pollution, being faced at global, national, and local level, besides numbers of industrial and developmental activities. The major cities of the world are now facing problem of rise in noise pollution due to very high population, transportation, congestion and associated commercial and industrial activities.1 Noise pollution creates adverse effect on the physical, pathological and psychological well being of people. The direct physiological effects include a loss of either temporary or permanent hearing in our auditory organ. The nonauditory effects include cardiac ailments, stress and fatigue, and sleep disturbances. Among the psychological effects documented by experts are a lack of concentration, enthusiasm, low work efficiency, loss of memory and an adverse impact on the maternal and infant health conditions in the developing as well as developed countries of the world. Noise is also suspected of aggravating nausea, headache, insomnia and a loss of appetite in adults as well as in children also. Key Words: Po llut ion, No ise, Law.

Introduction Noise, by definition, is unwanted sound. The type of sound which is pleasant to some ears may be extremely unpleasant to others, depending on a number of factors. Vibrations strike on the ear drum of majority of mammals and setup a nervous response, which we call sound. When the effects of sound are beyond the limit of toleration then it may be stated as Noise. Though, the urban population is much more affected by such pollution than rural. Noise is becoming an ever more omnipresent, yet ignored form of pollution even in developed countries. The movement against noise pollution is in embryonic stage in India. Noise Pollution: Definition and underlying concept Etymologically, the word noise is derived from the Latin term nausea implying unwanted sound or sound that is loud, unpleasant or unexpected. It has been defined as unwanted sound, a potential hazard to health and communication dumped into the environment with regard to the adverse effect it may have on unwilling ears.2 Noise is defined as unwanted sound. Sound, which pleases the listeners, is music and that which causes pain and annoyance is noise. At times, what is music for some can be noise for others.3 Section 2 (a) of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 includes noise in the definition of air pollutant. Section 2(a) air pollution means any solid, liquid or gaseous substance including noise present in the atmosphere such concentration as may be or tent to injurious to human beings or other living creatures or plants or property or environment. According to Encyclopedia Britannica: In acoustic noise is defined as any undesired sound. 4 The Supreme Court of India gave a significant verdict on noise pollution in 2005. 5,6 Unnecessary honking of vehicles makes for a high decibel level of noise in cities. The use of loudspeakers for political purposes

* Research Associate, Faculty of Educati on, The ICFAI Uni versity, Tri pura, INDIA.
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http://www.sciencepub.net/report/report0205/10_3014_report0205_59_61.pdf P.S. Jaiswal and N istha Jaiswal, Environmental Law, Second Ed. (Delhi: Pioneer Publication 2003), at 327, available at http://www.legalserviceindia.com/articles/noip.htm 3 Parivesh-Newsletter on Noise Pollution, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Vol. 3(iv) 1996 available at http://www.cpcb.nic.in/newsletter_archive.php?pno=1 4 Vol. 16 , 1968, at 558 5 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_issues_in_India 6 http://www.karmayog.org/noisepollution/noisepollution_95.htm

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and by temples and mosques make for noise pollution in residential areas. According to Robert Koch a Nobel Prize Winner German bacteriologist, Noise like Smog is a Slow Agent of Death. Noise is an important environmental pollutant like noxious gases that befoul our air, water and soil. It destroys bridges and produces cracks in buildings. The noise can cause skin and mental diseases. 7 On the basis of the above definitions, the loudness which is more commonly understood source of noise is in fact Combination of Intensity and Frequency can be measured in DECIBELS. 6 A decibel can be defined as an abstract unit. It is to be remembered that the threshold at the nor mal hearing is 20-25 decibels and of normal conversation is 60 decibels. It has also been noticed that speech interference occurs at 75 decibels and definite annoyance begins at 80 decibels. The motor- activities disturbed at 90 decibels and physiological disturbance occurs beyond 120 decibels. Definite pain occurs at 140 decibels.6 The frequency limits of audibility are from 20 HZ to 20,000 HZ. Noise causes health effects, as also socio-cultural and economic effects. Most of the time, its effects cannot be evaluated objectively. 8 The direct physiological effects include a loss of hearing, either temporary or permanent. The non-auditory effects include cardiac ailments, stress and fatigue, and sleep disturbances. Among the psychological effects documented by experts are a lack of concentration, loss of memory and an adverse impact on the education of children. Noise is also suspected of aggravating nausea, headache, insomnia and a loss of appetite. 9 Sources of Noise Pollution: Noise is generated from a variety of sources such as industries, transport vehicles, construction activities, generator sets, fire-crackers in Deepawali and other festive, political or religious rally, rock music and a variety of indoor and outdoor sources. Typical noise levels of some point sources Source Noise level dB(A) Quiet garden 30 Ticking clock 30 Computer rooms 55-60 Type institute 60 Printing press 80 Sports car 80-95 Lathe Machine 87 Trucks 90-100 Car horns 90-105 Steam turbine (12,500 kW) 91 Pulveriser 92 110 KVA diesel generator 95 Riveting 95 Air compressors 95-104 Oxy-acetylene cutting 96 Trains 96 Power operated portable saw 108 Milling machine 112 Pneumatic Chiseling 118 Jet takeoff 120

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http://www.yorku.ca/bunchmj/ICEH/proceedings/Vijayalakshmi_KS_ICEH_papers_597to603.pdf http://www.cpcb.nic.in/oldwebsite/Publications/List%20of%20publications/pcls/pcls6.html 9 http://moef.nic.in/downloads/public-information/Noise%20Pollution_press%20note.pdf

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Source: Industrial Safety and Pollution Control Handbook

Noise is a prominent feature of the environment including noise from transport, industry and neighbors. Transport noise is an increasingly prominent feature of the urban environment, making noise pollution an important environmental public health issues. 11,12 Motor vehicles are the major sources for noise pollution in India, contributing about 55% to the total noise. 13 Effect of Noise pollution: Indian perspectives Peoples in India are not very much aware and cautious about this problem. Most of the people do not consider the noise as a pollutant, and take it granted for their routine life. Later on, it has been recognized as a pollutant.14 In India, the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 have been framed under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. Through the promulgation of the comprehensive Air Act of 1986, noise pollution has become an offence in India. 15
Table1: Ambient noise standards: Applicable in India

Area Category of Area Environmental noise standards dB*(A) code Day Time Night Time A Industrial Area 75 70 B Commercial Area 65 55 C Residential Area 55 45 D Silence Zone 50 40 Day time: 6.00 am to 9.00 pm Night time: 9.00 pm to 6.00 am *The limit in dB denotes the time-weighted average of the level of sound in decibels on Scale A which is relatable to human hearing. Source: The Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000. 16 Pollution Management
Book by S.K Agarwal

Noise level in crowded locations in Bombay was almost double that of residential standards adopted by most countries (45dB during day and 35dB at night). 14 Traffic noise in Vishakhapatanam exceeds 90dB even in morning hours that acts as a source of nuisance. 14 In Delhi and Calcutta, the noise level is 95dB as against the ambient limit of 45dB. Even at the calm places, it does not fall below 60 dB. 17 ,18 In Guwahati city, the average noise level at residential and commercial area was reported as 68 dB and 83 dB, respectively, which was 23.6 and 27.7 dB higher as compared to the Indian standard limit of noise in residential and commercial zones, respectively. 19 During the period of 2000-01, about 15 percent of the 280 complaints received by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board pertained to noise pollution from industries as power looms, engineering units and D.G sets located close to the residential areas.20 Exposure to noise pollution exceeding 75 decibels for more than eight hours daily for along period of time can cause loss of hearing. The hazards increase with the intensity of the noise and the period of
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http://discovery.bitspilani.ac.in/dlpd/courses/coursecontent/courseM aterial%5Cetzc362%5CNoice_Pollution_notes.pdf. Environmental health criteria 12: noise. (WHO: 1980). Available at http://www.inchem.org/documents/ehc/ehc/ehc012.htm 12 Quoted in Pratap Kumar Padhy and Bijaya Kumar Padhi, Assessment of Noise Quality in Bolpur-Santiniketan Areas (India), Vol. 3 No. 1, 2008 Journal of Environmental Research And Development 301-306 at 301 available at http://www.jerad.org/Sample01.pdf 13 Akbar Ziauddin (et al.), Noise pollution levels in the city of Dehradun vol. 13(4); 2007, Eco. Env. & Cons. 891-893 available at http://akbarhse.com/PDF/ppub8.pdf 14 Quoted in Narendra Singh and S. C. Davar, Noise Pollution- Sources, Effects and Control, vol. 16(3); 2004 Journal of Human Ecology page (181-187) at 182, available at http://www.krepublishers.com/02-Journals/JHE/JHE-16-0-000-000-2004Web/JHE-16-3-151-226-2004-Abst-PDF/JHE-16-3-181-187-2004-1160-Singh-N/JHE-16-3-181-187-2004-Singh-N.pdf 15 S.K. Agarwal, Pollution Management. Noise Pollution . 1st ed. (New Delhi: APH Publishing Corporation 2002) at 136-138. 16 www.cpcb.nic.in/.../(35)%20Noise%20Pollution%20Rules%202000.doc 17 D.P. Singh and C. M . M ahajan, Noise pollution: Its effect and control. In: G.K. Nagi, M . K. Dhillon and G. S. Dhaliwal (Eds.): Noise Pollution. (New Delhi: Commonwealth Publishers 1990) at22 18 Gopal Bhargava, Development of Indias Urban and Regional Planning in 21st Century. (New Delhi: Gyan Publishing House 2001, at 115-116 19 Quoted in Digvijay Singh and B.D. Joshi, Study of the Noise Pollution for three consecutive years during Deepawali festival in M eerut City, Uttar Pradesh. Vol. 3(6) 2010 New York Science Journal 40-42 at 40 20 State of the Environment Report. (Department of Forest, Ecology and. Environment, Government of Karnataka: Karnataka 2003) at 91, available at http://parisara.kar.nic.in/PDF/ip.pdf

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exposure. The sound produced by a bursting cracker, exceeding 150dB, can cause a ringing sensation called tinnitus and can impair hearing permanently. 21 In India, there were very few researches on noise pollution being carried out. According to World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, an indoor noise level of less than 30 dB (A) is required to ensure that the restorative process of sleep takes place effectively. 22 But surveys that had been carried out by different researcher in the past have revealed that noise levels in urban areas of India are generally much higher than recommended standards and is responsible for different health hazards. 12, ,23 In India, occupational permissible exposure limit for 8 h time weighted average is 90dBA. 24 The major industries responsible for excessive noise and expos ing workers to hazardous levels of noise are textile, printing, saw mills, mining, etc. Studies carried out by the National Institute of Occupational Health, India, showed that the sound pressure levels were very high in various industries of India. 25 During the Hindu festival Deepawali, huge numbers of crackers are exploded almost in every part of the country. This leads to noise and air pollution. The crackers contain dangerous chemicals including Arsenic, Sulphur, Magnesium, Iron dust, Aluminium dust etc. that are harmful and cause bronchitis, asthma, eye ailment, headache and nervous system problems in human beings while birds and animals have to cope with the blasts and toxic smoke.19 The study which was carried out in four locations at Kolkata i.e. Saltlake (residential area), Shyambazaar (commercial area), Tollygunge (commercial area) and College Square (sensitive area) reflects that the noise level was high on pre Deepawali and Deepawali days as compared to post Deepawali day at Tollygunge, Salt lake and Shyam Bazaar. Noise level on pre Deepawali day and Deepawali day in sensitive area (College square) was less than other normal days. Comparative evaluation of data indicates that noise levels were found increased in previous two years particularly in residential area. In Lucknow, Noise level on Deepawali day i.e. October 28, 2008 (ranged between 57.2-83 dB(A) Leq ) decreased at Gomtinagar as compared to Deepawali day, 2007 (range between 54-107 dB(A) Leq ). The decrease in ambient Noise Level during Deepawali 2008 can be attributed to the awareness campaigns and lesser bursting of noise producing crackers. The Noise level at Nishatganj on Deepawali day 2008 ranged between 7796.6 dB (A) Leq. The average noise level was exceeding the standard limits at many places including residential and silence zones in Bangalore. The ambient noise levels at Bhopal ranged from 59 to 91 dB (A). Maximum noise levels were recorded between 8 and 9 PM on Deepawali day. The ambient noise level particularly at evening to night hours has been undertaken at Agra at five locations viz. Tajmahal (Silence), Dist. Hospital (Silence), Dholpur House (Residential), Tajgunj (Residential) and Sadar market (Commercial). It has been observed that the stipulated Noise standards have been vio lated at all the locations at Agra, except early night hours around Tajmahal and late night hours at Sadar market area. The Noise standards given below for fire-crackers were notified by the Environment (Protection) (Second Amendment) Rules, 1999 vide G.S.R.682(E), dated the 5th October, 1999 and inserted as serial no. 89 of Schedule I of the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986. Subsequently these Rules were amended by the Environment (Protection) Second Amendment Rules, 2006 vide G.S.R. 640(E), dated the 16th October, 2006, under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. 26 1. The manufacture, sale or use of fire-crackers generating noise level exceeding 125 dB(AI) or 145 dB(C)pk at 4 meters distance from the point of bursting shall be prohibited. (dB (AI): A-weighted
Narendra Singh and S. C. Davar, Noise Pollution- Sources, Effects and Control, vol. 16(3), 2004 J. Hum. Ecol., 181-187 at 184 22 Berglund B. and Lindvall T., Community noise. (Geneva: WHO 1995) available at http://www.who.int/docstore/peh/noise old.html 23 Pratap Kumar Padhy and Bijaya Kumar Padhi, Assessment of Noise Quality in Bolpur Santiniketan Areas (India), Vol. 3 No. 1, 2008 Journal of Environmental Research And Development 301-306 at 302 24 http://www.ijoem.com 25 National Institute of Occupational Health, generation of database on occupational disease (A chievement) available at http//www.icmr.nic.in/000004/achievements1.htm 26 http://www.cpcb.nic.in/
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impulse Sound Pressure Level in decibel, dB(C)pk: C-weighted Peak Sound Pressure Level in decibel.) 2. For individual fire-cracker constituting the series (joined fire-crackers), the above mentioned limit be reduced by 5 log10 (N) dB, where N = number of crackers joined together. Cases on Noise Pollution in India 1. Om Birangana Religious Scociety v. The State, (1996 100 CWN 617) (Bhagabati Prosod Banarjee J.)27 Ban on use of Microphones / Loudspeakers at Religious Places and Congregation. A religious organization, Om Birangana Religious Society filed the writ petition requesting the Court that the respondents should not interfere with right of user of microphones, loud speakers, and for amplifying human voice and amplifying other sounds while playing daily pujas and other religious activities and displace of religious songs. The Court observed that Art. 25 is not absolute. Art. 25 (1) is subject to the provisions 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution. Accordingly, no authority would grant permission to use microphones without having any regard to the rights of the fellow citizens or the people of the area. In a religious place or congregation, the use of microphones should be limited to the persons or the followers or the disciples so that they may hear and know. 2. Chairman, Guruvayur Devaswom Managing Committee, Guruvayur v. Superintend of Police, (AIR 1998 Ker. 122) (U.P. Singh, S. Sankarasubban, JJ.) 38 Use of Horn type Loud Speakers to control Pilgrims in and around the Temple The Guruvayur temple in Kerala attracts many devotees and pilgrims through out the year. During Sabrimala Season, approximately from November to the end of January, there is a continuous flow of devotees. The managing committee decided to install loud speakers in the temple premises in order to control crowd and also issue directions to pilgrims with respect to the darshan in the temple. The respondents, the Police officers directed the Managing committee to remove horn type speakers. Apprehending this, the managing committee of the temple approached the High Court of Kerala to issue Writ of Mandamus restraining the respondents from removing the loudspeakers. The respondents argued that the horn type loud speakers are being used in the temple caused irreparable damages to ears. The Court on the basis of the report submitted by the Kerala State Pollution Control Board and the arguments of the both sides held that there cannot be noise pollution by using horn-type loudspeakers so far the temples premises are concerned. The Court allowed the Guruvayur Devaswom to use horn-type amplifiers in and around the temple premises. 3. Burrabazar Fire Workers Dealers Association v. Commissoner of Police, Calcutta AIR 1998 Cal. 121 (Bhugabati Prosod Bnarjee and Asis Baran Mukherjee, JJ) 38 Imposition of Ban on Manufacture of Noisy of Fire works Two Writ Petitions jointly decided as the same questions of fact and the law involved. Mohan fire Workers and Chandan Golcha approached the Court with a prayer for stay of the operation of a memo as well as police notification and to permit or allow manufacture, sell, dealing or trading and storing of fireworks without any restriction and also permit or allow bursting of fireworks/of less than 90 DB at 5 kms distance from the site of bursting without any restriction whatever. It has been also argued that the imposition of ban on certain items of noisy fireworks violates the fundamental rights of dealers to carry on trade and business guaranteed under Art. 19 (1) (g) of the Indian Constitution. The petitioner contended that neither Pollution Control Board nor the Commissioner of Police have any authority or jurisdiction under the law to impose such a restriction or condition. The Court held that there is no inherent or fundamental right to a citizen to manufacture, sell and deal with fireworks which will create sound beyond permissible limit and which will generate pollution which would endanger the health and public order. The Court further observed that in India there is no effective and elaborate law to control the noise creators. But under Art. 19 (1) (a) read with Art. 21, the citizens

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have a right to leisure which is all necessary ingredients of the right to life guaranteed under Art. 21 of the Constitution. 4. Rabin Mukherjee v. State of West Bengal, AIR 1985 Cal. 222 (Bhagabati Prasad Banarjee J.) 38 Prohibition on Use of Electric and Air horns by Transport Vehicles Rabin Mukherjee and others filed this Writ Petition for their own protection of rights and also in public interest. They alleged that noise pollution caused by the transport operators due to the electric an artificially generated air horns in a highly congested and populated metropolitan city of Calcutta. They prayed the writ of mandamus commanding the respondents to enforce provisions of Rule 114 of Bengal Motor Vehicle Rules, 1940. The Court after considering the facts and circumstances of the case held that it is the duty of the State Government to perform statutory obligation under Rule 114 (2) of the Rules and contravened the provisions. Even section 112 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 prescribes punishments in case of violation of the provisions. 5) Moulana Mufti Syed Mohammed Noorur Rehman Barkati v State of West Bengal, AIR 1999 Cal. 15 (Bhagabati Prosad Banerjee, J.) Use of Microphones in mosques amounts Noise Pollution Moulana Mufti Md. Noorur Rehman Barkati, and others filed this writ application for a declaration that Rule 3 of the Environmental (Protection) Rules, 1986 and Schedule III of the said Rule do not apply in case of Mosques more particularly the time of Azan from the Mosques and for the declaration that Schedule III of the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986 is ultra vires Articles 14 an 25 of the Constitution. The petitioners submitted that Azan is essential for all obligatory prayers and is called by Muezzin in loud voice to summon all believers in Islam to prayers. Hence it was claimed that use of microphones for the purpose of Azan is a part of the religious right guaranteed under Article 25 of the Constitut ion. Court held that the use of microphone is not an integral of Azan and /or necessary for making Azan effective. Simply because microphone has been invented and ultimately it is found that it is one of the major sources of sound pollution and it affects the fundamental right of the citizens under Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution. Effects of Noise pollution: International perspectives Noise pollution, the silent killer, is increasing with an alarming rate not only in the developing country but also in developed country with the rapid modernization of the science and technological development. Almost each and every part of the world is invaded silently by the noise pollution and contributing its effects on the physical and mental health of the people. Almost everyone has had one experience of being temporarily "deafened" by a loud noise. This "deafness" in not permanent, although it is often accompanied by a ringing in the ears, and one can hear another person if he raises his voice. Likewise, normal hearing comes back within a few hours at most. This sort of partial hearing loss is called Temporary Threshold Shift (TTS). 28 The loss is caused by the destruction of the delicate hair cells and their auditory nerve connections in the Organ of Corti, which is contained in the cochlea. WHO Report on Noise Pollution in Africa, North America, Latin America, Eastern Mediterranean, Europe, Japan, and South-East Asia According to WHO Report 29 , In Africa there are high noise exposure levels in the formal (e.g. manufacturing, mining) and informal occupational sector (small industries such as vehicle repairing, metal-working, milling), as well as the non-occupational sector (urban, environmental and leisure). Most countries in the region do not have effective programmes for prevention of NIHL (Noise Induced Hearing Loss).

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http://www.karmayog.org/noisepollution/57.htm Prevention of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (Geneva: WHO-PDH Informal Consultation 1997) at 6-7, available at http://www.who.int/pbd/deafness/en/noise.pdf

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In North America recent studies of environmental noise have shown that children may receive more noise at school than workers from an 8-hour work day at a factory and that regular attendees at professional sporting events are exposed to levels and durations that exceed most federal guidelines. In Latin America there have been problems assessing the magnitude of the problem, (which is thought to be large), with poor enforcement of legislation and poorly implemented hearing conservation programmes. Noise is an important cause of environmental pollution in countries in the Eastern Mediterranean, especially in urban centres. Industry (eg textile factories, forge-hammering plants), traffic noise, and leisure noise are important sources and in many cases give rise to significant NIHL. In Europe, directives to industry have improved noise emission levels over the last two decades and reduced the risk of damage to hearing by providing hearing protection for workers. Countries in South-East Asia generally have NIHL prevention programmes and legislation, but these are often poorly implemented and enforced and workers are ignorant of the problem. In Japan numerous studies have been conducted on noise control and hearing conservation. Administrative guidelines have recently been issued for prevention of NIHL in workplaces where the noise level as measured by LAeq, 8h is not less than 85 dB. Concluding Observation: To reduce the noise pollution several measures can be implemented such as proper maintenance of vehicles and roads, plantation of trees and electricity generator should be covered under silencer, traffic movements should be maintained or control effectively by traffic police and to aware the people about noise pollution. Although we, the Indian people were not aware about this problem earlier, but after the Stockholm Conference in 1972, various laws were enacted to check and control the pollution. The Central Pollution Control Board has been playing a key role in abatement and control of pollution in the country by generating relevant data, providing scientific information, rendering technical inputs for formation of national policies and programmes, training and development of manpower and organizing activities for promoting awareness at different levels of the Government and Public at large.30

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Annual Report (Delhi: Central Pollution Control Board, M inistry of Environment & Forest, Govt. of India 2006-07) at 1, available at http://www.cpcb.nic.in/upload/AnnualReports/AnnualReport_34_Annual-Report-06-07.pdf