Solutions for sound pollution

November 5, 2016

floriano-loboFLORIANO LOBO  |   To start with, let me introduce myself as the person who knocked on the doors of the Bombay High Court at Goa in a Suo Moto PIL 97 of 1997 bringing to the fore the problems faced by society at large due to the indiscriminate loud music noise pollution in this otherwise peaceful State since times immemorial (read pre-1961). That was when actual law and order not only existed but was seen to have existed, and appreciated, even to this day, while the present law and order seems to have been hawked to the highest bidder.

As a long time activist desiring the ultimate fool-proof State Administrative control over loud music noise pollution, so that those who want to benefit from it commercially or otherwise may do so without being harassed and extorted but also the citizenry who would want to enjoy peace, relax, study or simply revel in the peaceful atmosphere of welcoming Goa may do so without having to run from pillar to post. What I mean is an impartial balance which is easy to maintain if laws and rules of the land are properly and judiciously implemented, not without the necessary whip as a deterrent.

1.  As far as monitoring Loud Music Noise Pollution is concerned, we see that an emphasis has been put on the decibel meter to record the level of sound to bring the culprits to book when a complaint is registered with the local police. Most often, when the police do arrive at the location, the sound levels are completely under control and the complainant’s bonafide are in question. This is because the vested interests who benefit from disturbing loud music has ways and means at their disposal to be alerted about the impending visit by the police. Therefore the volume goes down to permissible levels. When the police exit, the volume goes up again. This has created frustration within the community which desires peace. As according to us, the decibel meter should not be the criteria for determining the levels of loud music as this is controlled by a volume control. The decibel meters are valid instruments to measure the sound levels of stationery machinery where the noise generated cannot be controlled by a volume control. Example: saw mills, gensets, pneumatic hammers, Motor-bikes without prescribed silencers etc.

2. For out-door open air functions and venues: The deadline of 10.00 p.m. that has been set by the environment protection act must be maintained at all costs. The functions may continue after 10.00 p.m., but with reduced music volume for listening pleasure only. This must be made very clear to the managements of open air venues which are a valuable asset to Goa’s entertainment front, violation of which should result in suspending the respective licences for 3 or six months on logging of the ‘third offence’. The permissions to these venues should be renewable on yearly basis.

3. For in-door venues like dance bars, discotheques etc: The permission to use loud music must be included in the licence to operate such indoor venues with no further need to obtain fresh permissions. But the criterion to grant licences to these in-door venues should be on a strict condition that these venues be made DOUBLE DOOR SOUND PROOFED. If this criteria is not met, licences to these venues should be denied and those operating outside these conditions must be closed down until they comply.

4. Funnel-type horn speakers: Should be banned from use by any private individuals. Only LICENSED agencies which supply PUBLIC ADDRESS SOUND SYSTEMS for the purpose of public address only, should be able to own such horn speakers. This will ensure that religious and other institutions do not own these units to be used indiscriminately at will and who cannot be held accountable for loud music noise pollution.

5. Musical festivals: Festivals such as Sunburn and other open air EDM festivals should be mandatorily made to set up boundary walls of appropriate height made of appropriate sound absorbing material so that the BASS which travels long distances as ground waves unlike the medium and higher music frequencies which are lost in the air, are arrested and absorbed, reducing their long reaching impact. An example of the ‘Bass’ travelling as a ground wave is an approaching car playing very loud music. One hears the Bass much before the car is in the vicinity but none other components of the music are heard as these are lost in the air, travelling upwards. The source of disturbance to distant individuals is the Bass.

6. Beach Shacks: These have become a perennial source of loud music noise pollution nuisance on the Goan beaches which disturb the peace and tranquility of the neighbourhood. Those who visit the beaches do so to relax and enjoy the sea. The cacophony created by closely placed shacks creates more of a nuisance than anything else. Therefore, as a policy, the beach shacks should be permitted to use music for listening pleasure only which does not cross 50 Watts of music power. This suggestion has been made to this committee a long time ago and is yet to be implemented.

In short, the versatile Government Policy on loud music noise pollution must be such that everyone who wants to enjoy loud music and everyone who wants to obtain commercial benefits from playing loud music should be free to do so, especially, since Goa is a music loving State. However, this should be so that those who want to enjoy the peace and quiet after 10.00 p.m. or those who need to study or relax in peace even during day time hours should also be allowed to do so.

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