Noise pollution during the Ganesh festival has continued to increase over the years despite better public awareness.
While improved technology has ensure that loudspeakers that are easily available and are relatively cheap, traditional instruments like dhol tasha and pakhwaj have come to dominate the festival over the last few years. This has added to the rising decibel levels, experts from College of Engineering Pune (COEP), Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and officials from Pune Municipal Corporation said.
According to noise pollution rules, the permissible decibel levels during the day is 50dB in silence zones and 55 dB in residential areas. This year, the MPCB plans to monitor nearly 20 locations during the Ganesh festival.
Dr Mahesh Shindikar, member of the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority and assistant professor of applied sciences at COEP, along with his team will monitor noise levels at various points on Laxmi Road on the last day of the Ganesh festival while MPCB will monitor the locations during the last five days of the festival.
Noise levels have been consistently rising over the last decade. The festival was noisiest in 2013, when average reading showed levels as high as 114.4 decibels, according to data from COEP. From 2001 till 2014, the COEP has been monitoring noise levels on the concluding day of the festival – during the immersion procession – and has found average noise levels ranging between 90 and 100 dB, Dr Shindikar said.
However, Mahesh Suryavanshi, treasurer of Shreemant Dagdusheth Halwai Ganapati Trust, said there had been a strict implementation of rules and even mandals had been cooperating. There are at least 250 dhol tasha groups and we have requested Ganesh mandals to allow practice sessions just three weeks ahead of the Ganesh festival that commences on September 17, he said.
Shrikant Pathak, DCP (special branch), said, “Each police station has been told to conduct regular checks and file cases if noise levels exceed permissible limits.”
Meanwhile, Sumaira Abdulali, convenor of Awaaz Foundation, has written to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to ensure that measures are taken by the state to comply with decibel limits. Awaaz Foundation has requested residents to keep them informed on decibel levels (which can now be recorded on any smartphone) and effectiveness of police complaints/action. A dedicated Facebook page Citizens’ Noise Map allows interaction between complainants and overall monitoring of the implementation of court orders.
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