New Delhi: Air pollution reached alarming levels in Delhi and nearby towns like Noida and Faridabad after the celebration of Diwali, but the festival was kinder on the ears— noise pollution was much less compared to last year.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), India’s top pollution watchdog, analysed the ambient noise level at 70 locations in seven major cities—Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Lucknow, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.

The analysis revealed that compared to last Diwali, 56 locations witnessed a decrease in and 10 an increase in noise pollution during the day. Fifty three locations saw a decrease and 14 an increase during the night time this Diwali.

“Out of 70 locations, only 9 locations are meeting both the daytime and night-time standards. All the locations are above the prescribed limits for daytime and night-time in Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai," the CPCB analysis revealed.

As per the analysis, the maximum sound level was observed at Golpark in Kolkata, followed by Guindy and Perambur in Chennai while the minimum sound level was observed at Mandir Marg in Delhi and Gachibowli in Hyderabad.

Noise pollution causes deleterious effects on the health and psychological well-being of people. Experts say noise in excess of 90 decibels can cause neurosis and nervous breakdown and eventually loss of hearing and irreversible changes in the nervous system.

The safe noise level limit for residential areas is 55 decibels during daytime (6am–10pm) and 45 during the night (10pm–6am), for commercial areas 65 decibels and 55 decibels and for industrial areas 75 decibels and 70 decibels respectively.

In March 2011, the Union government set up the national ambient noise monitoring network (NANMN) through CPCB and the state pollution control boards (SPCBs) to monitor noise on a 24x7 basis in India’s seven largest cities. Under NANMN, 70 stations exist in seven cities—10 each in Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Lucknow and Mumbai (including Navi Mumbai). The noise monitoring stations are operated by the state pollution control boards.

On the air pollution front, Delhi and its adjoining areas like Noida, Faridabad and Gurgaon have been hit by “severe" air quality since Diwali on 30 October, shrouded in a heavy blanket of smog. Severe is a level that can cause respiratory problems in healthy people and seriously impact those with existing diseases.

The Union environment secretary called on Friday for stricter enforcement of anti-pollution measures in states around Delhi, saying flawed implementation was hurting air quality in the capital. Jha met environment secretaries from five states of Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab to discuss issues including crop burning, dust pollution, landfill sites, building construction, and vehicular and industrial pollution.

With air pollution reaching emergency levels in the capital and adjoining areas, Union environment minister Anil Madhav Dave is due to meet environment ministers of the five states on Monday to discuss measures to improve air quality.

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