“Forming pollution is easy, but resolving the impact of it is difficult.” Pollution means causing harm to our environment by pollutants such as non- decomposable objects, hazardous chemicals, gases, etc. Whenever a debate arises about pollution, people generally discuss water and air pollution and ignore noise pollution but in this modern era due to urbanization and industrialization noise pollution has become a serious and omnipresent issue. Noise pollution means an unwanted or unpleasant sound that causes discomfort to all living beings. There is a thin line difference between sound and noise. Sound is what we hear and noise is unwanted sound but it depends upon the person and circumstances whether the sound is pollution or not. For instance, some people love loud music whereas other people find it as annoying noise. In both cases, loud sound is harmful if people are exposed to loud sounds for a long period they may get serious health issues. The article is a detailed analysis of Noise Pollution Rule, 2000.
The intensity of sound is measured in decibel (dB), one dB is the faintest sound a human can hear, whereas normal conversation ranges from 35 dB to 60 d if it goes beyond 140 dB it becomes painful. The World Health Organization states that sound below 70 dB is not harmful to living organisms even though the exposure of sound is long and consistent. Further, they state that exposure beyond 85 dB may be hazardous. For example, on highways automobiles create noise pollution of around 85 dB. Previously, noise pollution was defined under Section 2(a) of the Air (Preventive and Control) Act, 1986. Later, owing to the seriousness of noise pollution, The Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 was introduced under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
Types of Noise Pollution
In general we can segregate noise pollution into three types they are:
- Industrial noise pollution
- Vehicular noise pollution
- Neighbourhood noise pollution
Industrial Noise Pollution
- Industrial noise pollution has caused an adverse effect on people not only working under them but also affect people who are living near the surrounding region of these plants and factories. Many people lost their hearing capacity when working under factories, mills, and industries that use high-intensity machines. For instance, people who work in the shipping and steel industries are exposed to high-intensity sounds that are caused by their equipment such as mechanical saws, pneumatic drills, rotating belts, etc, up to 112 dB or higher than that. It has been found that even one-time exposure to sounds higher than 120 dB can cause instant damage to our hearing capacity.
Vehicular Noise Pollution
- Vehicles are the main source of noise pollution it includes road traffic noise, rail traffic noise, and aircraft noise. Traffic congestion causes honking that leads to air pollution. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has tracked noise levels through monitoring stations and found that Chennai was the noisiest city among the metros. It has been found that among ten stations, the average noise level was 67.8 dB which is higher than Delhi’s 61 dB. Almost every city in our country violates noise pollution standards. The World Health Organization states that south Asia is affected by the highest hearing loss in the world mainly among the elderly and children.
Neighbourhood Noise Pollution
- Neighbourhood noise pollution is made by the people in the surrounding region. This noise pollution is mainly caused knowingly or unknowingly by household gadgets, musical instruments, television, etc.
- Sometimes in community functions, people use loudspeakers with maximum volume this causes noise pollution and disturbs the peace of the whole community.
Effects of Noise Pollution
- Noise pollution affects millions of people and other living things on a daily basis both physically and mentally. Experts have found that noise pollution has caused some serious impact on wildlife as it interferes with breeding cycles and rearing it also hastened the extinction of some species.
- Exposure to prolonged noise can cause serious health issues such as stress, poor concentration, fatigue, lack of sleep, high blood pressure, nervous breakdown, etc. It affects health efficiency and behaviour. It causes great damage to the brain, heart, liver, and eardrum. A study conducted on environmental noise pollution has found that people living near airports and roads have a higher incidence of headaches, usage of sleeping pills and sedatives, are more prone to minor accidents, and may seek psychiatric treatment. It also states that the sounds we hear when we are asleep are also affecting us. So, though we are not aware of background noises coming from traffic, aircraft, music, it is still processed and our body is reacting to it.
- Ultrasonic sound causes dizziness, tinnitus, nausea, and it also affects respiratory, digestive, and cardiovascular systems. Some severe effects of noise pollution include vision impairments and a decrease in the rate of colour perception.
Noise Pollution Rule, 2000
Section 3 : Ambient air quality standards
- The State Government should classify areas into industrial, commercial, residential, and silence zones for better implementation of noise standards in different areas.
- The State Government should take necessary measures to reduce noise pollution which includes noise emanating from vehicular movements, blowing of horns, bursting crackers, sound-producing instruments, loudspeakers, or any public addressing system. The Authorities while functions or any other planning activity should follow ambient air quality standards. The restrictions of the usage of the aforementioned things are dealt with in Section 5 and Section 5A of the rules.
- The areas surrounding (100 meters) hospitals, educational institutions, and courts may be declared as silence zones. Section 6 states the penalty for violation in silence zones.
- Section 4 Enforcement of noise pollution control measure
- The noise level should not exceed the ambient air quality standards in any area/zone with respect to the schedule.
- The concerned authority will be responsible for the noise pollution control measures and the due compliance of the ambient air quality standards.
- The State Pollution Control Board with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) shall collect, compile, and publish technical and statistical data relating to noise pollution and measures devised for its prevention, control, and abatement.
- Section 7 deals with complaints made to the authority, that is if a person exceeds the noise level standard by 10dB the authority will take action against the violator.
- Section 8 deals with the power to prohibit and continuance of music sound or noise.
Ambient Air Quality Standards
|Area||Day Time (dB(A) Leq*)||Night Time (dB(A) Leq*)|
- Where, Day Time: 6:00a.m to 10:00p.m
- Night Time: 10:00p.m to 6:00a.m
- dB: Decibel
- A: frequency weighting in the measurement of noise
- Leq: energy mean of noise level over a specified period
- Recently, the CPCB set new fine rules for noise pollution which ranges between Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 1 lakh. Violation of the rules in the usage of loudspeakers will lead to confiscation of the equipment and a fine of Rs. 10,000. Violation of rules in diesel engine generators will lead to the sealing of generators and a fine between Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 1 lakh will be charged depending on the size. Violation of rules in the case of sound-emitting equipment will lead to sealing of the equipment and a fine of Rs. 50,000. The Noise standards for motor vehicles, air-conditioners, diesel generators are prescribed in the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986.
- Noise pollution can also be dealt within the law of torts under nuisance for which we can file a civil suit and claim compensation if the offence is proved. Section 268 of IPC defines public nuisance and Sections 290 and 291 of IPC defines punishment for the same.
- In Radhey Shiam v. Gur Prasad Serma, the continuous rattling noise generated from the defendant’s flour mill on the ground floor annoyed the plaintiff who was residing in the first floor. The plaintiff said he would lose his peace of mind as he is adversely affected by the sound. In this case, it was held that it was a nuisance and an injunction order was granted to the defendant’s flour mill.
- In Ram Lakhan Singh v. The State of UP, it has been held that the loudspeakers, amplifiers, or other gadgets that produce offending noise once detected as a violation of law will be seized and confiscated by making provisions in the law.
It is already high time to reduce noise pollution. People can no longer ignore it as it has already become a part of our life.
Some effective control measures for noise pollution are the following
- Receiver’s control – it means for people working in noisy environment protection aids like ear-plugs, ear-muffs must be provided to reduce the impact.
- Source control – usage of quieter machines, better maintenance of machines, covering noisy machines with sound-absorbing material will control noise effectively.
- Distance – increasing the distance between the residential area and noisy areas such as bus terminals, railway stations, airports will reduce the impact of noise pollution.
- Other measures include house insulation which prevents the penetration of noise effectively, proper oiling of machines will help in reducing noise, planting trees which will act as noise barriers, reduction of traffic density, redesigning of buildings to make them soundproof and following rules and regulation prescribed by the government.
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BY JOTHI POORNA S | BHARATH INSTITUTE OF LAW