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Noise Pollution: Sources, Effects and Control

Written by: Deepak Miglani - LLM from M.D. U. Rohtak
Copyright Law
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  • The present generation and the coming generations have to solve three grave problems, namely, population poverty and pollution if they have to survive. Pollution being the most dangerous problem likes cancer in which death is sure but slow. Environment pollution is assuming dangerous proportions all through the globe and India is not free from this poisonous disease. This is the gift of modern living, industrialization and urbanization. Unless timely action is taken we have a forbid and bleak future for the world.

    The word noise is derived from the Latin term nausea. It has been defined as unwanted sound, a potential hazard to health and communication dumped into the environment with regard to the adverse effect it may have on unwilling ears.

    1. Noise is defined as unwanted sound

    Sound, which pleases the listeners, is music and that which causes pain and annoyance is noise. At times, what is music for some can be noise for others2

    Section 2 (a) of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 includes noise in the definition of ‘air pollutant’.

    Section 2(a) air pollution means any solid, liquid or gaseous substance including noise present in the atmosphere such concentration as may be or tent to injurious to human beings or other living creatures or plants or property or environment.

    According to Encyclopedia Britannica: In acoustic noise is defined as any undesired sound.3

    In chambers 21st Century Dictionary the definition of noise has undergone a change. Noise pollution stands carved out as phrase separately from noise. The two are defined as under:

    Noise- a sound; a harsh disagreeable sound, or such sound; a din. Pollution- an excessive or annoying degree of noise in a particular area, e.g. from traffic or aero plane engines.

    Pollution is a noise derived from the verb pollute. Section 2 (c ) of the Environment (Protection ) Act, 1986 defines environmental pollution to mean the presence in the environment of any environmental pollutant. Section 2 (b) of the said Act defines environmental pollutant to means any solid, liquid or gaseous substance present in such concentration as may be ,or tends to be injurious to environment.

    Noise can be described as sound without agreeable musical quality or as an unwanted or undesired sound. Thus noise can be taken as a group of laud, non harmonious sounds or vibrations that are unpleasant and irritating to ear.

    2 Measurement

    A decibel is the standard for the measurement of noise. The zero on a decibel scale is at the threshold of hearing, the lowest sound pressure that can be heard, on the scale acc. To smith, 20 db is whisper, 40 db the noise in a quiet office . 60 db is normal conversation, 80 db is the level at which sound becomes physically painful.

    The Noise quantum of some of the cities in our country indicate their pitch in decibel in the nosiest areas of corresponding cities, e.g. Delhi- 80 db, Kolkata - 87,Bombay-85, Chennai-89 db etc.

    3 Sources of Noise Pollution

    Noise pollution like other pollutants is also a by- product of industrialization, urbanizations and modern civilization. Broadly speaking , the noise pollution has two sources, i.e. industrial and non- industrial. The industrial source includes the noise from various industries and big machines working at a very high speed and high noise intensity. Non- industrial source of noise includes the noise created by transport/vehicular traffic and the neighborhood noise generated by various noise pollution can also be divided in the categories , namely, natural and manmade. Most leading noise sources will fall into the following categories: roads traffic, aircraft, railroads, construction, industry, noise in buildings, and consumer products.

    1. Road Traffic Noise:
    In the city, the main sources of traffic noise are the motors and exhaust system of autos , smaller trucks, buses, and motorcycles. This type of noise can be augmented by narrow streets and tall buildings, which produce a canyon in which traffic noise reverberates.

    2. Air Craft Noise:
     Now-a-days , the problem of low flying military aircraft has added a new dimension to community annoyance, as the nation seeks to improve its nap-of the- earth aircraft operations over national parks, wilderness areas , and other areas previously unaffected by aircraft noise has claimed national attention over recent years.

    3. Noise from railroads:
    The noise from locomotive engines, horns and whistles, and switching and shunting operation in rail yards can impact neighboring communities and railroad workers. For example, rail car retarders can produce a high frequency, high level screech that can reach peak levels of 120 dB at a distance of 100 feet, which translates to levels as high as 138, or 140 dB at the railroad worker’s ear.

    4. Construction Noise:
    The noise from the construction of highways , city streets , and buildings is a major contributor to the urban scene . Construction noise sources include pneumatic hammers, air compressors, bulldozers, loaders, dump trucks (and their back-up signals), and pavement breakers.

    5. Noise in Industry:
    Although industrial noise is one of the less prevalent community noise problems, neighbors of noisy manufacturing plants can be disturbed by sources such as fans, motors, and compressors mounted on the outside of buildings Interior noise can also be transmitted to the community through open windows and doors, and even through building walls. These interior noise sources have significant impacts on industrial workers, among whom noise- induced hearing loss is unfortunately common.

    6. Noise in building:
    Apartment dwellers are often annoyed by noise in their homes, especially when the building is not well designed and constructed. In this case, internal building noise from plumbing, boilers, generators, air conditioners, and fans, can be audible and annoying. Improperly insulated walls and ceilings can reveal the soundof-amplified music, voices, footfalls and noisy activities from neighboring units. External noise from emergency vehicles, traffic, refuse collection, and other city noises can be a problem for urban residents, especially when windows are open or insufficiently glazed.

    7. Noise from Consumer products:
    Certain household equipment, such as vacuum cleaners and some kitchen appliances have been and continue to be noisemakers, although their contribution to the daily noise dose is usually not very large.

    4 Harmful Effects:
    On Human Being, Animal and Property: Noise has always been with the human civilization but it was never so obvious, so intense, so varied & so pervasive as it is seen in the last of this century. Noise pollution makes men more irritable. The effect of noise pollution is multifaceted & inter related. The effects of Noise Pollution on Human Being, Animal and property are as follows:
    I It decreases the efficiency of a man:- Regarding the impact of noise on human efficiency there are number of experiments which print out the fact that human efficiency increases with noise reduction. A study by Sinha & Sinha in India suggested that reducing industrial booths could improve the quality of their work. Thus human efficiency is related with noise.

    II Lack of concentration:- For better quality of work there should be concentration , Noise causes lack of concentration. In big cities , mostly all the offices are on main road. The noise of traffic or the loud speakers of different types of horns divert the attention of the people working in offices.
    III Fatigue:- Because of Noise Pollution, people cannot concentrate on their work. Thus they have to give their more time for completing the work and they feel tiring.

    IV Abortion is caused: - There should be cool and calm atmosphere during the pregnancy. Unpleasant sounds make a lady of irriative nature. Sudden Noise causes abortion in females.

    V It causes Blood Pressure: - Noise Pollution causes certain diseases in human. It attacks on the person’s peace of mind. The noises are recognized as major contributing factors in accelerating the already existing tensions of modern living. These tensions result in certain disease like blood pressure or mental illness etc.

    VI Temporary of permanent Deafness:- The effect of nose on audition is well recognized. Mechanics , locomotive drivers, telephone operators etc. All have their hearing . Impairment as a result of noise at the place of work. Physictist, physicians & psychologists are of the view that continued exposure to noise level above. 80 to 100 db is unsafe, Loud noise causes temporary or permanent deafness.

    VII EFFECT ON VEGETATION Poor quality of Crops:- Now is well known to all that plants are similar to human being. They are also as sensitive as man. There should be cool & peaceful environment for their better growth. Noise pollution causes poor quality of crops in a pleasant atmosphere.

    VIII EFFECT ON ANIMAL:- Noise pollution damage the nervous system of animal. Animal looses the control of its mind. They become dangerous.

    IX EFFECT ON PROPERTY:- Loud noise is very dangerous to buildings, bridges and monuments. It creates waves which struck the walls and put the building in danger condition. It weakens the edifice of buildings.

    5 Legal Control:
    (a) Constitution of India
    Right to Life:- Article 21 of the Constitution guarantees life and personal liberty to all persons. It is well settled by repeated pronouncements of the Supreme Court that right to life enshrined in Article 21 is not of mere survival or existence. It guarantees a right of persons to life with human dignity. Any one who wishes to live in peace, comfort and quiet within his house has a right to prevent the noise as pollutant reaching him.

    Right to Information:- Every one has the right to information know about the norms and conditions on which Govt. permit the industry which effect the environment.

    Right to Religion and Noise

    Right to religion does not include right to perform religious activities on loud speaker and electronic goods which produce high velocity of noise.
    Directive Principal of State Policy:
    The state has the object to make the enviorment pollution free.
    Fundamental Duties:
    every citizen of the country has the fundamental duty to clean the environment.

    (b) Cr.P.C. Section 133
    Here Section 133 is of great importance. Under Crpc. Section 133 the magisterial court have been empowered to issue order to remove or abate nuisance caused by noise pollution Sec 133 empower an executive magistrate to interfere and remove a public nuisance in the first instance with a conditional order and then with a permanent one. The provision can be utilized in case of nuisance of environment nature. He can adopt immediate measure to prevent danger or injury of a serious land to the public. For prevention of danger to human life, health or safety the magistrate can direct a person to abstain from certain acts.

    (c) I.P.C. Public Nuisance 268-295
    Chapter IV of Indian Penal code deals with offences relating to public health, safety, ....decency , morals under Sections 268, 269, 270, 279, 280, 287, 288, 290 291 294. Noise pollution can be penalized with the help of above section. Private remedies suits in the area may related to public nuisance under A299. This article punishment in case of Public nuisance law of torts covers. A person is guilty of public nuisance who does any act or is guilty of an illegal omission which causes any common injury, danger, or annoyance to the pubic or to the people in general who dwell or occupy property in the vicinity or which must necessarily cause injury, obstruction danger or annoyance to persons who may have occasion to use any public right. A common nuisance is not excused on the ground that it causes some convenience or advantage. Who ever commits a public nuisance in any case not otherwise punishable by this code, shall be punished with fine, which may extend to Rs. 200.

    (d) Law of Torts Noise pollution is considered as civil wrong:-
     Under law of torts , a civil suit can be filed claiming damages for the nuisance. For filing a suit under law of torts a plaintiff is required to comply with some of the requirement of tort of nuisance which are as follows:-
    1. There should be reasonable interference.
    2. Interference should be with the use & enjoyment of land.
    3. In an action for nuisance actual damage is required to be proved. As a general rule either the presence or absence of malice does not matter. But in some cases deviation from the rule has been made.

    In Christe Vs Davey The extent of noise & the amount of disturbance caused there by was ignored & it was held that the noise which arose due to the practice of lawful profession, & without any malice, could not be considered to be actionable nuisance.

    In Hollywood Silver Fox Farm Ltd. Vs Emmett It was held that presence of malice was a factor in determining liability for noise amounting to nuisance. The court said that even on his won land was nuisance, & the defendant was liable in damages.

    (e) Factories Act Reduction of Noise and Oil of Machinery

    The Factories Act does not contain any specific provision for noise control. However, unde the Third Schedule Sections 89 and 90 of the Act, noise induced hearing loss, is mentioned as notifiable disease. Similarly, under the Modal Rules, limits for noise exposure for work zone area have been prescribed.

    (f) Motor Vehicle Act.

    Provision Relation to use of horn and change of Engine:- In Motor veichle Act rules regarding use horns and any modification in engine are made.

    (g) Noise Pollution Control Rule 2000 under Environment Protection Act 1996 :-
    Further for better regulation for noise pollution There are The Noise Pollution ( Regulation and Control ) Rules, 2000 – in order to curb the growing problem of noise pollution the government of India has enacted the noise pollution rules 2000 that includes the following main provisions:-
    # The state government may categories the areas in the industrial or commercial or residential
    # The ambient air quality standards in respect of noise for different areas have been specified.
    # State government shall take measure for abatement of noise including noise emanating from vehicular movement and ensure that the existing noise levels do not exceed the ambient air quality standards specified under these rules.
    # An area not less than 100 m around hospitals educations institutions and court may be declare as silence are for the purpose of these rules.
    # A loud speaker or a public address system shall not be used except after obtaining written permission from the authority and the same shall not be used at night. Between 10 pm to 6 am
    # A person found violating the provisions as to the maximum noise permissible in any particular area shall be liable to be punished for it as per the provision of these rules and any other law in force.

    (see rule 3(l) and 4(l)
    Ambient Air Quality Standards in respect of Noise
    Area Code Category of Area/Zone Limits in dB(A) Leq *
    Day Time NightTime
    (A) Industrial area 75 70
    (B) Commercial area 65 55
    (C) Residential area 55 45
    (D) Silence Zone 50 40

    *dB(A) Leq denotes the time weighted average of the level of sound in decibels on scale A which is relatable to human hearing. A "decibel" is a unit in which noise is measured. "A", in dB(A) Leq, denotes the frequency weighting in the measurement of noise and corresponds to frequency response characteristics of the human ear. Leq : It is an energy mean of the noise level, over a specified period.|

    6 Judiciary And Noise Pollution

    In Raghunandan Prasad5 the engine of a factory was causing noise so as to be a serious nuisance to be the people living in the neighborhood the forbade the working of engine from 9 P.M. to 5 A.M.

    In Mauj Raghu6 A rice mill working at night during season will not disentitle the inhabitants of locality to relief under this section if it is established that such working is a nuisance.

    In Ram Avtar7 The appellant carried on a trade of auctioning vegetable in private house the noise caused by the auctioning caused discomfort to person living in society. An order was passed restraining auctioning g of vegetable in the their house. It was held by supreme court that the order was not justified merely because the applicant carried on auctioning gin connection with which the carts were brought they could not be taken as cause of problem Section 133 was held not intended to stoop such trades merely because of discomfort caused by the noise.

    In Himmat Singh8 Where there were fodder tals in a residential colony to which fodder was brought daily during nights by trucks which were unloaded in the morning and fodder was cut during the day by electric operated machines. It was held that the carrying on the trades causing intolerable noises emanating offensive smells and spreading dust containing articles of fodder cut was public nuisance as noise pollution.

    Some other important cases are also have great relevance in this regard:
    In Govind singh9 the court examined the emerging parameters of public nuisance. The supreme court on special leave to appeal noted that the evidence disclosed the emission of smoke injurious to health and physical comfort of people living or working in the proximity of appellant bakery and held this as a case of public nuisance.

    In Maulan Mufti Syed and Other V. State of West Bengal AIR 1999 CAL 15 The court held imposition of restriction on the use of microphone and loud speakers by the state government between 9 pm to 7 am which inter alia include recitation of azan on microphone in early hours before 7 AM is not violative of Article 25 of constitution guaranteeing of freedom of religion.

    Latest authority of supreme court is a land mark judgment in the field of noise pollution

    In Re: Noise Pollution11 Following important observations have been made by Supreme court regarding noise pollution which are discussed as follows:-
    Facts of the case:
    Anil mittal an engineer filed this case . the immediate reason for this was that a 13 years old girl was a victim of rape he cries for held and went unheard due to blaring sound of loudspeakers noise music over loud speakers in the neighbor hood. the Petitioner complain of noise created by the use of loudspeakers being used in religious performances or singing bhajans and the like in busy commercial hi fi audio systems are used.

    There are rules framed by the government regarding noise pollution and known as Noise Pollution control and Regulation Rules, 1999. On 11-10-2002 govt brought in an amendment in the rules. The amendment empowered the state government to permit use of loudspeakers or public address system during night hours between 10 pm to 12 pm in the mid night on or during the cultural or religious occasions for a limited period not exceeding 15 days.

    In this case supreme observed that Right to life enshrined in Article 21 is not of mere survival or existence. It guarantees a right of persons to life with human dignity. There in are included all the aspects of life which go to make a person life meaningful complete and worth living. Every body who wished to live in peace , comfort and quiet with in his house has a right to prevent the noise as pollutant reaching him. No one claim a right to noise to create noise even in his own premises which would travel beyond his precincts and cause nuisance to neighbors or others.

    7 Conclusion:-
    We have made the law relating to noise pollution but there is need to creating general awareness towards the hazardous effects of noise pollution. Particularly, in our country the people generally lack consciousness of the ill effects which noise pollution creates ad how the society including they themselves stand to beneficiary preventing generation and emission of noise pollution. The target area should be educational institutions and more particularly school. The young children of impressionable age should be motivated to desist from playing with firecrackers, use of high sound producing equipments and instruments on festivals, religious and social functions, family get-togethers and celebrations etc. which cause noise pollution. Suitable chapters can be added into textbooks, which teach civic sense to the children and teach them how to be good and responsible citizen which would include learning by heart of various fundamental duties and that would obliviously include learning not to create noise pollution and to prevent if generated by others. Holding of special talks and lectures can be organized in the schools to highlight the menance of noise pollution and the role of the children in preventing it . For these purpose the state must pay its role by the support and cooperation of non-government organizations (NGOs) can also be enlisted.

    Foot Notes
    1. P.S. Jaiswal and Nistha Jaiswal – Environmental Law, Second End. 2003,p.327
    2. [Parivesh News Letter: Central Pollution Control Board, December, 1996].
    3. Vol. 16 , 1968, p. 558.
    4. Infra 11
    5. ( 1931) 53 ALL 706
    6. ( 1964) 2 CrLJ 94
    7. ( 1963) SSCR 9 AIR 1962 SC 1794
    8. Himmat Singh v. Bhagwan Ram (1988 CrLJ 614 Rajasthan
    9. Govind singh v. Shanti Swaroop AIR 1979 SC 143
    10. In Maulan Mufti Syed and Other8 V. STATE OF WEST BENGAL AIR 1999 CAL 15
    11. In re: Noise Pollution Implementation of The Laws For Restriction Use of Loudspeakers And High Volume Producing Sound Systems with Forum, Prevention of Enivornment And Sound Pollution versus Union of India And Another

    More Articles on Environmental laws:
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    Environment: Ethics, Laws and its Conservation
    Article 21 of Indian Constitution- A Mandate To Pollution Free Environment

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