Mumbai plans to curb noise pollution

Jan 4, 2023 | Blog, Quiet Coalition

Photo credit: Jerry H. licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

This article on reports on Mumbai’s plans to curb noise pollution, largely coming from the efforts of noise activist Sumaira Abdulali. Mumbai is considered by many to be the noisiest city in the world, although that is hard to prove.

I have visited Mumbai twice, and I can certainly say that it is noisy. There are about 12 million people in the city itself, maybe twice that in the greater metropolitan area, with a street grid laid out decades or even centuries ago. Streets are clogged with all sorts of vehicles, and there is incessant honking of horns. Large construction projects are underway in many parts of the city. It’s a vibrant, wonderful, colorful place, but it’s too noisy.

About twenty years ago, everyone told Abdulali that it was ridiculous to try to make Mumbai quieter because “Indians love noise.” But she persisted, and won a number of lawsuits, both on her own and with her Awaaz Foundation as the plaintiff (“awaaz” means noise in Hindi). Her first victory was a ruling banning loudspeakers within 100 meters of schools, hospitals, courts, and places of worship. Another court victory required contractors to place sound barriers around construction sites. She also was able to orchestrate Mumbai’s first No Honking Day in 2008, something that according to the article now happens (more or less) every Wednesday.

Mumbai remains too noisy, though, but at least the problem has been identified and citizens and the government are working towards solutions. That seems to be more progress against noise than has been made in our country.

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