Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh, famous for brass work, has been making all the wrong noises. It has been ranked as the second-most noise-polluted city in the world by the United Nations report, ‘Frontiers 2022: Noise, Blazes and Mismatches’, with its decibel (dB) level measured at 114. Four other Indian cities—Delhi (83dB), Kolkata and Asansol (89dB) and Jaipur (84dB)—also feature in the 61 worldwide cities on this chart. Dhaka is the noisiest (119dB), while Islamabad is ranked third (105dB).
This dubious decibel distinction ought to mark its presence in our environmental discourse. Typically, the quality of the air we breathe is what’s understood as pollution, even though the harm that high decibel levels can cause is no less serious. Sustained exposure to noise above 70dB could result in hearing loss and drown out natural sounds with beneficial health effects. The clean-up policies we design should notch up noise control as a priority for public safety. Willy-nilly, the hurly-burly of economic development adds to the din. We can’t turn the clock back, but we could make an effort to assure ourselves some peace and quiet. It’s about time we got a grip on urban India’s volume knob.
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