Noise monitoring on prominent days of the festival across Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad has shown a drop in decibel levels, as compared to previous years, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) officials said. A study of ambient noise levels in the state during the period of Ganesh festival has been conducted for more than ten years. This year too, noise monitoring is underway at more than 100 locations in Maharashtra.
Pratap Jagtap, sub-regional officer, MPCB, Pune, told The Indian Express that in Pune, ambient noise levels were monitored across 23 locations, including three in Pimpri-Chinchwad. Noise levels were monitored from 6 pm to midnight on August 22, August 23, August 26 and August 28, and data will also be collected on the final day of the festival (September 1), he added.
“Our findings on the four days show that on average, the minimum noise level recorded at these locations was 56 dB, while the maximum was 86 dB,” Jagtap said. “At locations such as Mahatma Phule Market (mandai), where decibel levels are usually very high, the average level recorded on August 22 was between 65 to 70 dB. At M G Road in Camp, the average level was lower than 60 dB, while in Kothrud, it was 55.9 dB. On other days, too, noise levels averaged between 55 and 75 dB across locations.”
During celebrations, devotees usually listen to bhajans, kirtans and songs using massive speakers, MPCB officials said. During Anant Chaturdashi, which is the final day of the Ganesh festival, there is heavy traffic on roads, which leads to an increase in air (particles from vehicles) and noise (excessive honking) pollution.
Over the years, concerted efforts by Ganesh mandals, effective administration, and awareness about harmful effects of noise pollution has led to a drop in noise levels. For instance, last year, noise levels saw a drop of four decibels during the immersion procession in 2019, as compared to 2018. According to Mangesh Dighe, environment officer with the Pune Municipal Corporation, this year, there have been no immersion processions on the third and fifth day of the Ganesh festival. There has been no use of loudspeakers, and it has been relatively quiet, he added.
According to Sumaira Abdulali, convenor, Awaaz Foundation, gatherings during the pandemic put everyone’s health at risk due to multiplying infections. ‘Noise pollution is another health epidemic affecting everyone, and noisy celebrations need to be controlled with equal vigour to protect our overall health. Since loud noise also acts as a stimulant, it increases irresponsible behaviour during the pandemic,” she said.
According to Sarita Khanchandani, president, Hirali Foundation – which has been creating awareness about noise levels especially during festive seasons – said that this year, the Ganesh festival has been relatively quiet. With immersion processions being suspended at 12 collections centres at Ulhasnagar, for instance, the average noise level recorded was between 55 and 60 dB.
Concerns raise over excessive use of headphones
ENT specialists and audiologists have raised concerns about the use of headphones, as well as listening too loudly or for long durations, which can cause permanent damage to one’s hearing.
Dr Seemab Shaikh, senior ENT specialist, said work from home can lead to excessive use of headphones and exposure to more screen time. There is an increasing concern, as using headphones for prolonged periods by adults, teens, or even young children is harmful, Dr Shaikh said.
Dr Kalyani Mandke, an audiologist, said the community noise during Ganesh festival is within an acceptable range. However, work from home habits have changed. “Some people sleep with their headphones, and their ears are constantly stimulated. It is vital that we give our ears a rest,” she said. (Express News Service)
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