Ganeshotsav 2017 ends with a big bang in Mumbai

Mumbai: The noise level during celebrations on the last day of Ganeshotsav on September 5 was the second highest in four years, with Santacruz recording 119.8 decibels (dB) — as loud as a thunderclap.
At 123.7dB, the celebrations were the noisiest in 2015. The noise level was 116.4dB in 2016 and 114dB in 2014.
This year, the noisiest immersion procession was opposite Santacruz police station, near Juhu beach, where drums, metal cylinders and metal hammers were used. The procession at Badam Wadi in Kalbadevi came a close second at 116.7dB. Immersions at Gokhale Road in Dadar were the quietest in the city at 87dB.
According to the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000, residential areas should have a maximum noise level of 55dB in the day and 45dB at night.
On Tuesday, 40,572 idols were immersed across 119 immersion sites in the city.
Anti-noise campaigners, who measured noise levels on Tuesday evening, reported extensive use of firecrackers at all immersion routes in Bandra, Santacruz, Vile Parle, Mahim, Dadar, Cuffe Parade and along Girgaum Chowpatty.
“The city witnessed a quieter Ganesh festival last year. It was quite the opposite this year,” said Sumaira Abdulali, convener, Awaaz Foundation. “Although the use of DJs was reduced, the confusion on restrictions, especially in silence zones, resulted in increased use of metal cylinders.”
The courts are hearing petitions on silence zones — areas around hospitals, educational institutions and religious shrines where loudspeakers cannot be used at all. On Monday, the Supreme Court (SC) stayed an interim order by the Bombay high court (HC) banning the use of loudspeakers in silence zones in the state.
The HC on September 1 granted interim stay to an August 10 amendment to the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules that led to the elimination of over 1,500 notified ‘silence zones’ in Mumbai ahead of festive season.
Abdulali said metal cylinders beaten with metal hammers, which were used extensively in the suburbs and sporadically in south Mumbai, were the loudest.
“The police stopped all processions from using noisy instruments and loudspeakers by around 12.05am at Girgaum Chowpatty. However, the speeches from booths of political parties continued till 12.25am, which were later stopped by the police.”
The campaigners spotted a team of policemen with decibel meters near the Opera House Junction between 10pm and midnight. “We will submit noise data for the entire festival to the Bombay high court,” said Mumbai police spokesperson Rashmi Karandikar, deputy commissioner of police (operations).
The umbrella body of Ganesh mandals in the city, Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvay Samiti (BSGSS), said while 35,000 loudspeakers were used on September 5, the use of DJ systems dropped by 90%. “Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis lauded our awareness drives over the past six months that ensured minimal use of DJ system and Bollywood music in the city. However, we are aware there is a need for sensitisation among mandals to bring down the use of loudspeakers as much as possible,” said Naresh Dahibhavkar, president, BSGSS. “From October onwards, we will begin the next round of awareness drive to control noise pollution next year.”
Girgaum resident Anuj Mahadey said a few mandals played Bollywood music till 4am on September 6. “We were aware that noise levels would be high, but this was unbearable. The group would reduce their volume to minimal levels when police vans would pass by but increase it well beyond 100 dB once there was no one to check them,” he said, adding, “It was a painful experience for my family this year.”
At Thane, the processions were loudest (105dB) at Siddhivinayak Chowk, Thane (East).
“Decibel levels were much higher than permissible,” said Dr Mahesh Bedekar, anti-noise activist from Thane. “Even after the CM’s appeal, none of the mandals followed the directions. The police too didn’t stop any mandal from violating noise rules.”

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