Chennai: Singara Chennai has got a new tag. The city, which had managed to keep its noise pollution at check, with an exception during the festivals, is now on a high pitch.
Freshly released statistics by the ministry of environment reveals that Chennai is among the seven metropolitan cities to have exceeded permissible noise pollution levels.
While the combined noise pollution average for the city remains uncalculated, Deccan Chronicle analyses the average levels of all the ten noise-monitoring stations (for Sunday), only to learn that the numbers are much beyond permissible levels.
The 10 monitoring stations maintained by the Central Pollution Control Board include all four categories of the noise pollution standards –Quiet/ sensitive, commercial, residential and industrial.
The data (refer box) explains the pathetic condition of Chennaiites as sensitive areas (hospitals, schools and parks etc) have recorded over 20 per cent more than the permissible data, questioning the health of the vulnerable fraternity.
According to officials of Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), the average noise pollution levels had seen a gradual increase in the past five years. “Such alarming levels were earlier witnessed only during festivals and election canvass.
The situation has deteriorated in the past five years, due to increasing vehicle population and ongoing civic construction works including Metro Rail project,” said a senior official from TNPCB.
Did you know that a horn in a bullet bike could produce up to 105 decibels? While lack of awareness is the root cause for the growing noise pollution standards, lack of coordination between the regulatory, monitoring and executive agencies is the spoilsport, say environmentalists.
“People don’t realize how stressful noise pollution could be. It is the role of TNPCB to sensitise the general public on the permissible noise levels. The monitoring and executive agencies – transport department and Public health –are not concerned to put a check to the pollution. Coordination between the government bodies is not observed in any pollution control event,” said Shweta Narayan, Coordinator of the Community Environmental Monitoring.
The increasing craze for multi torn horns is yet another factor. Bike dealers at Pudupet told DC that they had been witnessing a spike in multi torn horns.
“We get more than 10 customers every day, who would want to tune their engines to produce a cracking noise. Demand to induce multi torn horns has also spiked up,” said a shop owner at Pudupet, C. Babu.
Tags: noise pollution, central pollution control board
Location: India, Tamil Nadu, Chennai (Madras)
As we commemorate the 12th anniversary of Downtown — the Hindu's community supplement that reflects the hopes, aspirations and despair of the denizens of Chennai, we thought it appropriate to elicit the views of a few prominent personalities from different walks of life on what the metropolis represents to them.
For Kamala Selvaraj, Joint Director of Gigi Hospital, Chennai is her favourite place in the globe next to Singapore. “Of late, Chennai has been very fortunate since she has had lots of new things bestowed on her which makes her more beautiful. The plus point is that there are lots of parks spread over the city and the minus point is there is no maintenance,” she says.
According to her, post-monsoon, the city is in chaos with contaminated water and stinking garbage stagnant all over the place. The traffic gets from bad to worse due to more number of vehicles on the road and poor traffic control system.
“Since we have proved ourselves unfit to manage the above, how about getting foreign collaboration?” the doctor asks.
“Stringent application on education with regard to personal hygiene and public cleanliness should be inculcated in all the residents of the city. In spite of all the above, I still love my sweet Chennai for the warm people and the traditional south Indian culture,” she quips.
Environmentalist and tree activist Shobha Menon feels that Singara Chennai can happen only if the government and citizens work together. “No time for blame games now, we need to act and soon,” she says.
She, however, sees some positive strides of late towards the greening efforts. “There is a little more focus on sensitive choice of species and awareness too. But much more needs to be done, in choosing the right kind of species that are location/ site specific with a view to regenerating biodiversity of local flora. Also, there is a lack of systematic management and care of mature trees.”
Right now, such management of grown trees is looked at only during rains/cyclones etc, she feels. “Trees are our life line, we need to care for them all through the year.”
Shobha says that public transport facilities need to be improved drastically, so that even a private vehicle owner finds it easier to use public transport.
“We will then naturally have uncluttered roads, less pollution and less stress all around. Good for the environment and good for us too.”
Efficient and effective garbage disposal still seems a far fetched proposition in many parts of Chennai. “It will continue this way if the local body does not bring in participatory community initiatives involving citizens towards cleaner neighbourhoods. Awareness is the key along with incentives and negative einforcements like strict fines and so on,” she adds.
T.P. Ekambaram, Editor, 'Thirukoil' HR & CE Department, feels that improvement of parks, building of flyovers and effective implementation of rainwater harvesting are the pluses in the city now. The Government has improved parks in many areas in the city. The Semmozhi Poonga, the recent addition, is a welcome one, but why impose a entry fee, he asks. “Many people flock to the park for walks. If it is free, more people would come and the authorities would also be held in good regard,” he feels.
He says that it is unnecessary to make the wide Luz road a one-way. “It is difficult for everyone.” Also, a wine shop near the Mundakanni Amman Koil is a nuisance, which has to be removed by the authorities, he adds.
Mr. Ekambaram says that temples are also prospering these days with more donations and patronage from devotees. With more public contributions, the temples are able to take up improvement works. However, the toilets provided in many temples are not visible. “There should at least be some sign board so that the public, especially little children do not dirty the temple surroundings during pradosham and festive seasons.”
The corporation authorities deserve praise for rainwater harvesting projects around temples, which have helped temple tank renovation, he states, citing the Marundeeswarar Temple (Thiruvanmiyur) and Agatheeswarar Temple (Purasawalkam) tanks.
Paul Kanakaraj, president of the Madras High Court Advocates Association, says construction of flyovers has reduced traffic jams and opening of more parks is to be appreciated. But the city lacks playgrounds. “Where is the space for the youth to relax? With no recreational facilities, the younger generation can easily be led astray. Several schools have good playgrounds. The Government can intervene and get them to open these grounds at least during week-ends,” he suggests.
The advocate feels that north Madras has been totally neglected as far as infrastructure is concerned. There is delay in road widening projects leading to congestion. Public transport too is neglected, due to which the poor and lower middle class commuters from moffusil areas suffer, he says. “Even while taking up improvement projects, the Government should think about the requirements 20 years hence and plan accordingly,” he adds.
Social activist Usha Sundar is concerned about the unbridled growth in construction activities and the consequent pressure on the roads due to increase in vehicles. “Earlier, there used to be only one or two houses with about five to 10 occupants on a one ground plot. Now, multi-storied buildings with 8 - 10 flats occupied by 30 – 40 people are built on a similar plot. Civic authorities are not keeping up with the developments. More garbage is generated, leading to pollution. Increase in vehicles puts pressure on the roads which are not made or maintained properly.”
Mrs. Usha feels that parks are sorely needed in suburbs such as Tambaram and Madambakkam “to make the places more liveable.” Builders are exploiting open spaces, flouting building norms, she complains.
Alexander Jesudas, Principal, Madras Christian College, describes the recent developments in Chennai at a very great pace as amazing. “We find a lot of new buildings, shopping areas, IT parks and restaurants. The lifestyle of people has also changed. From the education point of view, because of the overall development, the attitude towards education of women has also changed,” he says.
Mr. Jesudas says that the percentage of women students in his own institution has increased to a great extent. “Empowerment and emancipation of women is happening all around. There are women at the top in very many fields. These rapid changes are going to rise in the coming years,” he added.
On the flipside, he says that due to manifold multiplication of vehicles, there is traffic congestion everywhere. “The travel time from Tambaram to the city is more than two hours. The condition of the roads is also bad,” he states.
Carnatic vocalist S. Sowmya feels that the city has grown musically too and expanded beyond the city to the suburbs such as Chromepet which, she says, is refreshing. However, more centres and libraries devoted to music should be opened in places such as Anna Nagar. “People in the suburbs too should be exposed to music. The initiative should be taken by music schools and sabhas with the help of musicians, she suggests.