THE noise pollution caused by honking vehicles may soon reduce as the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) to fix standards for horns to be fitted on vehicles within a month.
“The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) will take a decision on the proposal for fixing the standards within two weeks. Thereafter, MPCB will take the decision in two weeks,” said a bench of Justice V R Kingaonkar and expert member Ajay Deshpande while hearing a petition last week. The tribunal said it was time for the CPCB to go beyond recommendations and actually fix the standards and bring out a notification.
The petition was filed by Dileep Nevatia, who wanted a direction to pollution control boards to lay down the standards for horns to be fitted in vehicles in accordance with environmental laws and submit a time-bound schedule to replace horns on existing vehicles with those manufactured under the new standards.
“At present, there are no standards prescribed for sound levels for horns at source in the country,” said D T Deole, senior law officer of MPCB . According to the Environment Protection Act, the noise limit prescribed for automobiles is 85dB (decibel).
A 10dB increase makes a sound that is perceived to be twice as loud. In Mumbai, vehicles have been observed to blare horns (short bursts) at peak levels of up to 108.4dB, according to surveys conducted by Awaaz Foundation.
“Honking is a major source of sound pollution and each year around 1.5 crore vehicles are added. If the standards for horns are fixed around 90dB and immediately implemented on new vehicles and in a time-bound manner on older vehicles, the noise pollution due to horns will reduced by 1/6th provided the much-needed relief to people,” said Nevatia.
In its recommendations, Deole said, the MPCB suggested to restrict the sound levels for horns at 88dB, while the CPCB felt the sound level for horns should be 95dB. “We will wait for the CPCB to fix the standards and immediately work on fixing standards for the state as well,” he added.