06 Apr Noise and Air Pollution – A particularly acute Indian problem.
Foreigners relocating to India find pollution a particularly acute problem to deal with while living in working in India. This article tries to bring out the various reasons for higher than normal Noise and Air pollution in the country and possible solutions that the Government has implemented and Individuals may adopt to counter the effect.
Noise and Air Pollution is all around us. It is an unavoidable part of our daily lives and has increasingly become a major burden on the quality of our daily lives. Noise pollution levels in India have been consistently higher than permissible limits, especially in the residential areas. These levels are not just particular to large and big cities but are also present in smaller towns and villages across India.
There are several factors that contribute to both Noise and Air pollution across India:
- Vehicular traffic creates a lot of noise as well as Air pollution: Their horns and engines being major contributors to pollution. With more than 17 Million vehicles sold in India each year and with no solid vehicle retirement age policy in place, Noise and air pollution will only continue to increase. The Government has brought in new regulations regarding engines and fuel as well as implementing vehicle retirement policy in certain cities.
- Pubs and restaurants that have mushroomed in residential areas belt out loud music through the night, though there are some controls in place, like closure times being strictly governed in almost all major cities.
- Noise from construction sites especially the ones located in residential areas. There are no prior intimation systems in place for construction activity or interior work happening at a particular site, so starting of such a project usually comes as a surprise. However, the local government does put in controls like start and end time of work on site.
- India is a secular country and this has allowed religious freedom of an entirely different kind, with no control or established limits on religious places of worship all across the Country – Large and small cities, towns and villages, all see uncontrolled emergence of mosques, temples, churches and Gurudwaras. Chimes of church bells or prayers offered at a temple or call for prayer from a mosque through the day and sometimes at night too, are common factors around residential areas across India.
- Street vendors and their calls to sell their wares like vegetables are a common sight on streets across India.
- Use of loudspeakers to celebrate a festival or wedding for several days is also found to be common. Bursting of crackers during such events has been a common sight, and this does add to noise and air pollution. Political rallies and activists’ processions at any time that could last several hours is a usual sight. Such processions hold up traffic thus increasing commute frustrations as well as contribute to Noise and Air pollution.
- Due to power outages, many residential and office establishments, do have back up power solutions where in the use of Fuel guzzling generators is common and these add to both sound and air pollution as well.
- India is a country with a more than billion strong population. This results in people living in very close proximity to each other due to the lack of space. Reduced personal space does bring communities and families in close proximity and is not uncommon to hear noise from a neighbour’s domestic dispute or a neighbour’s blaring television set. Street dogs barking are also quite common.
- Those living close to very busy roads can testify to the amount of dust that mark the air of most cities across India. Apart from large-scale infrastructural construction and expansion of Indian Infra across the country, vehicular traffic and the constant reconstruction of houses and development of new apartments and dwelling units are also become major sources of dust and air pollution across India.
- Some very green cities like Bengaluru for instance have an abundant measure of the allergy causing pollen, mainly from parthenium. Its presence is most felt between July to September resulting in wide spread asthma. Similarly heat and Humidity and other extreme weather factors may also play a role in the occurrence of wide spread asthmatic pandemic across India every year.
- In recent years, a new Phenomenon has started to occur across North India. From late September through October of each year, farmers in Northern India, mainly from the states of Punjab and Haryana, burn an estimated 35 million tons of crop waste post-harvest, as a low-cost straw-disposal practice, this is known as “stubble burning” and helps reduce the turnaround time between harvesting and sowing for the second (winter) crop. Due to this practice of stubble burning, Entire North India, including Delhi and the National Capital Region gets engulfed in very heavy smog. This Smog reduces visibility and increases the PM2.5 level in the air to very dangerous levels and which could cause respiratory and other health concerns. The Delhi government has banned selling and bursting of crackers during Diwali and has on multiple occasions implemented the “Odd – Even” driving regulations to help reduce pollution.
While the government does its bit, the implementation of various policies is challenging and difficult in a large, diverse and highly populated country like India. It is recommended for Individuals, specially expatriates, to make their own provisions to ensure more comfort from the Noise and Air pollution in larger Indian cities. Some recommendations for expatriates to consider are:
- Double glazed doors and windows: This can suppress sound by at least 30 %
- Nano Tech Window membranes: This can essentially make any house or office space pollution/dust/pollen resistant without blocking the fresh air from entering.
- Bedroom: Occupy the bedroom most distant from the front of the house / road.
- Air Purifiers: Deploy air purification systems in the most often used areas of the house / apartment.
- Gated community: Try to live in a gated community. Such communities have restrictions on street vendors etc to enter and are usually set at a slight distance away from the main road.