Monitoring ambient noise made easy

CPCB sets up monitors in seven cities to help authorities control pollution

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Neha Sethi | March 17, 2011



Do you think the noise levels in your neighbourhood are above the prescribed standards but have no way of knowing for sure? Help is on the way: the central pollution control board (CPCB) has installed 35 noise monitoring systems across seven metros for continuous noise monitoring. The National Ambient Noise Monitoring Network is supervising ambient noise on a 24x7 basis. All seven cities have five of these noise monitoring systems installed at various spots.

These cities are Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow and Mumbai. In Delhi, the systems have been installed at ITO; Institute of Human Behavior and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) hospital; Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology (NSIT), Dwarka; Delhi Technical University; Bawana and outside the CPCB office in East Arjun Nagar.

S P Gautam, chairman of CPCB, said, “We are the first in the world to have such a big network on noise monitoring.”

The board plans to have 160 noise monitoring systems in place by 2012 covering 25 cities. The exercise aims to make the law enforcement agencies aware of the noise pollution levels in their city. Individuals too can check noise levels themselves and bring the matter to the authorities' notice, if an accompanying website is ready in time, according to a scientist at CPCB.

“The officials of the designated law enforcement agency can then log on to the website and check the noise pollution levels during different times of the day and act accordingly,” an official from CPCB said.

The law enforcement agency for every state is different. “While in some states, it is the state pollution control board, in others it might even be the police,” the official added. This depends on the noise rules, he said.

The ministry of environment and forests has, under the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000, directed all the states/union territories’ administration to designate an ‘authority’ responsible for maintaining the ambient noise standards in their respective states/union territories. The rules mention that the designated ‘authority’ has to be an officer not below the rank of deputy superintendent of police.

An official at the board said that the website would become functional once it is officially launched by environment and forests minister Jairam Ramesh this month.

Every city is divided into four zones: industrial area, commercial area, residential area and silence zone. The permissible limits of noise are different at night and day times. While the permissible limit of noise during the day in a ‘silence zone’ is 50 decibel, in an industrial area, it is 75 decibel.

The standards (as specified by the CPCB) are:

AREA                            DAY TIME(dB)              NIGHT TIME(dB)
Industrial area                    75                                   70
Commercial area                 65                                   55
Residential area                  55                                   45   
Silence Zone                        50                                   40

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