Night is between 10pm and 6am

What is night? A simple existential question nobody thought was worth losing sleep over. Now, the government has burnt the midnight oil to define ‘night’ as between 10pm and 6am.

Putting a cap on the noisy wrangling over the duration of night time, the government has recently amended the country’s noise rules, disallowing the use of musical instruments, construction equipment, crackers and loudspeakers during the period.

“For the first time we have defined night time and we have also restricted use of construction equipment and musical instruments,’’said environment minister Jairam Ramesh.

This should come as a big relief to people living in noisy residential areas. “People are having disturbed sleep at night, which is the main cause for growing cases of insomnia and depression,” experts in the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) said.

The result, however, may take some time to seep in. “This is just  small step, I am not saying that our cities will be quiet all of a sudden,” Ramesh said.

The key areas to work on were residential colonies and sensitive zones like schools and hospitals, he added. He also announced the infrastructure facilities that the government is planning in the next five years to bring down noise pollution.

The government has promised tough measures against noise polluters.

Now, the local police can take action against offenders without waiting for a complaint to be filed.

According to a study conducted by the CPCB, in most metros, including the national capital, the noise level is 20-25% more than the 55 decibels permitted in residential areas.

A pilot project in Delhi suggests that, on an average, decibel levels in Delhi are in the 66-70 range while they are worse in Kolkata, where the range is 69-76.

The ministry of environment and forests has selected seven cities – Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Lucknow — each of which would have 10 stations by September 2010 where noise levels would be recorded and efforts would be made to bring down the noise levels.

“This is the first time that monitoring would be made on the noise levels in India and we would provide infrastructure to implement the rules,” said the minister.

Apart from these mega cities, the ministry has also included names of another 18 cities, mainly state capitals, where stations would be made to record noise levels.

By Gyan Varma / DNAFriday, January 15, 2010 0:38 IST Email

Article was emailed by Ravinder Singh