Processions in Mumbai during the first day of the Ganesh idol immersions for Ganeshotsav were quieter this year than the noise levels measured during the entire festival last year. This year’s noise levels on the first day of the celebration were much lesser when compared to the data recorded since 2003, anti-noise campaigners stated in a report.
The highest levels of noise were recorded 100.7 decibels (dB), as loud as a motorcycle, from a procession at Worli Dairy in south Mumbai, non-government organisation Awaaz Foundation said in a report.
Last year, the highest noise levels were recorded only during the last day (Anant Chaturdashi) at 121.3 dB. The highest noise level over the past 17 years was recorded during Ganeshotsav 2015 at 123.7 dB followed by 123.2 dB recorded in the year 2013.
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On Sunday, lowest noise levels were witnessed at Shivaji Park in Dadar at 53.1 dB from a collection point and an artificial immersion site. At all remaining areas, ambient noise (traffic but no loudspeakers or noisy instruments) contributed to the noise level and ranged between 65.3 dB and 77.2 dB.
According to the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000, residential areas should have a maximum noise level of 55 decibels (dB) in the day and 45dB during night.
How loud is too loud?
- Noise levels up to 70dB are acceptable to the human ear.
- Continuous exposure to decibel levels higher than 70dB can lead to hearing loss.
- Continuous exposure to noise in the range of 100dB-110dB can result in sensorineural hearing loss, which usually occurs suddenly. If detected at an early stage, the damage is reversible. (Source: WHO)
“Ganesh Chaturthi this year was the quietest ever recorded since 2003. There were no crowds in most places and almost no loudspeakers or other noisy instruments. More artificial immersion spots and policies for online celebrations helped reduce the din,” said Sumaira Abdulali, convener, Awaaz Foundation. She added that that the Covid-19 pandemic and associated impacts played a major role in ensuring smaller and less noisy processions.
“Although we need to understand how sustainable will this dramatic change in noise levels this year be in a post Covid world,” she added.
On Sunday, the city saw a total of 40,823 idol immersions – 39,845 households and 978 Sarvajanik (public) – of which 22,859 idols were immersed across artificial immersion sites – 22,149 households and 710 Sarvajanik, respectively.
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The highest levels of noise were recorded 100.7 decibels (dB), as loud as a motorcycle, from a procession at Worli Dairy in south Mumbai.
“This year, the administration was more careful while people were cautious about the ongoing pandemic and decided to avoid crowds. At the same time, alternative sources through artificial immersion spots helped avoid large groups near natural immersion sites such as Girgaum Chowpatty, Shivaji Park, Juhu beach etc. We will ensure this trend continues throughout remaining immersion days,” said Narendra Barde, joint municipal commissioner (zone II), Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
A senior official from the Mumbai police said, “We have strictly implemented noise abatement measures this. The use of disc jockey sets and loudspeakers is prohibited. Wherever large crowds have the possibility of gathering, more police personnel are being deployed there and social distance is being maintained.”
The Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Samanvay Samiti (BSGSS), the umbrella body of Ganesh mandals, said they have directed all mandals in the city not to violate noise rules. “The city is celebrating a simple festival this year. The noise is minimal only from aartis (ceremonies during prayers). There are directives from the police and the Bombay High Court. We will see what happened at Worli since majority of idols immersed were household and not under our control,” said Naresh Dahibhavkar, president, BSGSS.
Abdulali added, “It is heartening to know that the Ganpati mandals voluntarily cooperated not only to safeguard public health and the environment but to undertake important social causes in the crisis of pandemic that we currently face.”
Noise pollution is an unrecognised crisis where unwanted or excessive sound can have deleterious effects on human health.
According to Dr Samir Bhargava, ENT surgeon at DrRN Cooper Medical General Hospital, Vile Parle, if noise levels are high at night, the main impact is on the mind more than our hearing abilities. “The stress will lead to blood pressure issues, irritability, and headaches. Depending on the duration of the exposure, the level of 102 dB as average noise levels is extremely dangerous for citizens, especially for children and senior citizens,” he said.