Fighting noise in your neighbourhood

It was 10am in the morning. A torrent of unbearably loud music got me up on my feet out on the road. I saw many loudspeakers that had been installed overnight, from Nagasandra circle to Thyagarajanagar, all along the main road.

Sound should not be audible beyond 200 feet, says the law. Pic: Shamala Kittane.

Evidently, a nearby temple had decided to celebrate ‘Annamma Devi Festival’ – a borrowed tradition from a village but now out of context and place. A local JD (S) politician, Adisheshaiah, however decided to keep the tradition going.

The festive season in Bangalore begins in August and goes on for next two months, with Dasara, Diwali etc. Various gods are appeased with appropriate pujas alongside noisy celebrations. It’s Annamma Devi festival in this case that drove me to the nearest police station. Clearly the noise was beyond tolerable limits and in complete violation of noise pollution norms.

According to Karnataka State of Environment Report and Action Plan-2003.

The Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000, have set the standards for noise levels in various areas in our country.

Area Code Category of Area/Zone Limits in dB (A)
Day Time Night Time
A Industrial area 75 70
B Commercial area 65 55
C Residential area 55 45
D Silence Zone 50 40

The day time refers to the time period between 6 am and 10 pm. The period in between has been referred to as night. A silence zone is defined as an area comprising not less than 100 mts around hospitals, educational institutions and courts.

Clearly the Annamma Devi function was in violation of all the norms and I had a strong case on my side.

When I reached the police station, it was afternoon and the policemen were busy distributing packets of lunch. I tried to explain the problem to them. They were willing to take the complaint but they wanted my name and address. I was aware that complaints can also be taken anonymously told them that it was their duty to enforce law when it is being violated, irrespective of who is complaining. One of the policemen tried justifying the organisers, asking me, would I not be using loudspeakers when I have a function at my home.

I demanded to know whether the organisers of Annamma Devi had obtained permission, the policemen told me to go to the office of Deputy Commissioner of Police to get an answer.

So I went to the DCP’s office at Sound End circle, Jayanagar. I was shown the board showing visiting hours by a constable, indicating that I can meet the DCP, H S Revanna only between 4 pm and 6 pm. I told him I was not a visitor, and I was there to complain regarding the loudspeaker problem. He said the DCP was busy in a meeting and directed me to ACP of Bangalore South, M N Babu Rajendra Prasad. To my relief, the ACP heard me out patiently and ordered a few of his colleagues to look into the issue.

According to the Karnataka Police Act, 1963,
Licensing use of loudspeakers, etc.-
(1) Subject to the provisions of section 36 and of any orders made under section 31, no person shall use or operate,-

  1. In or upon any premises any loudspeaker or other apparatus for amplifying any musical or other sound, at such pitch or volume as to be audible beyond fifty feet from such premises;
  2. In any open space any loudspeaker or other apparatus for amplifying any musical or other sound, at such pitch or volume as to be audible beyond two hundred feet from the place at which the musical or other sound is produced or reproduced, except under and in accordance with the conditions of a licence granted by the Superintendent or in such local area by such other officer as the State Government, may, by notification in the official Gazette specify in this behalf.

The ACP promised to have the speakers confiscated and issued orders to have them removed. When I returned home, the noise had subsided, but the speakers stayed. The event continued for the next two days. However the noise level remained under check, within tolerable limits.

However, on the third day, the noise was at its peak marking the end of the festival. It was an orchestra. I put up with the unbearable noise levels till 10pm, before calling 100. A Hoysala team arrived and put a stop to it after another agonising half an hour, while I was tensed and was praying to goddess Annamma Devi, that I wouldn’t have to call the police again.

Noise pollution cannot be ignored. According to World Health Organisation, noise pollution has the following effects on human beings:

  • interferences with social behavior (aggressiveness, protest and helplessness)
  • interference with speech communication
  • affects performance at work/school
  • pain and hearing fatigue
  • hearing impairment including tinnitus
  • annoyance
  • sleep disturbance and other consequences on a long and short term basis
  • cardiovascular effects
  • hormonal responses (stress hormones) and their possible consequences on human metabolism (nutrition) and immune system.

Based on the duration of exposure, noise can have multiple effects on human beings. Some of which are listed below:

  • Eardrum is damaged when exposed to very loud and sudden noises. The hair cells in the inner ear are chronically damaged. Prolonged exposure to noise of certain frequency pattern leads to hearing loss.
  • According to Kryter in 1970, noise causes heart beat to decrease with fluctuations in arterial blood pressure and vasoconstriction (decrease in the diameter) of peripheral blood vessels.
  • Studies indicate that blood is thickened by excessive noise. Eosinophilia(a symptom of allergy), hyperglycaemia (Abnormally high blood sugar), hypokalaemia (Abnormally low level of potassium in the circulating blood leading to weakness and heart abnormalities) and hypoglycaemia (Abnormally low blood sugar) are caused by alteration in the blood due to noise.
  • Noise affects professional performance including the ability to concentrate especially of those who require precision and attention in their work.
  • Exposure to high noise levels for short period of time can result in temporary loss of hearing. Exposure for long periods of time can result in permanent loss of hearing. High noise levels are dangerous for foetus and can cause behavioral changes in pets.

Public speaker systems that do not follow the norms of noise pollution are the main contributors to this hazard. Many of us just put up with it, as we think that in most cases it is temporary. However, short periods of
inconvenience are becoming a regular feature in the city. It’s time we become aware of the consequences of noise pollution. The picture below will give you an idea of measuring the sound you are surrounded by.

Source: http://parisaramahiti.kar.nic.in/PDF/publications/Noisepolution.pdf

Different agencies for different types of noise

You can approach Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) for complaints against sources of noise that are permanent. KSPCB will issue a notice to the offending party and order a permanent solution.

According to Vijaya Karthikeyan, Environmental Officer at KSPCB, noise pollution by loudspeakers does not come under the jurisdiction of KSPCB. The Superintendent of Police is the ultimate authority in this regard, and has been empowered to enforce law and take action in cases of noise from loud speakers, crackers, processions etc. that require immediate action. Similarly, complaints against noise from motor vehicles go to the traffic police. Complaints on hotels and other private organisations go to BBMP.

Adamant organisers, helpless cops?

After a few days, when everything got back to normal, I was left with the nagging urge to seek answers to the many unanswered questions, such as the number of permissions that can be granted by the police in an area, the criteria for granting a permission etc. This took me again to the ACP.

Bangalore South ACP Prasad took time to clear my doubts. “There is no limit on the number of permissions we are authorised to give, we mostly give the permissions. In some cases like in cases where hospitals are nearby, we (do) reject,” he clarified.

“We only give permission for mike sets, not for public address systems. If rules are violated, we file a case against them and confiscate the loudspeakers,” the ACP added.

When Thyagarajanagar is a thickly populated area with many schools nearby, isn’t permitting such functions in contempt of the law? The ACP responded, “The organisers seek permission from the corporation (BBMP) to erect structures on the road and from traffic police to block roads. In cases where they have been granted permission from these authorities, it becomes difficult for us to deny them permission. We have to co-operate.”


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About Shamala Kittane Subramanyan 24 Articles
Shamala Kittane is a freelance writer and avid cyclist.

25 Comments

  1. My neighbour aunty is harassing all of our society members with loud music daily.. as our houses are just exactly facing opposite to each other.. the entire sound is in my house.. I told her many times to reduce the volume then she starts and uses abusive language.. due to her loud music I cannot study.. Due to her abusive language nobody is ready to stand against her.. Please suggest me what to do..

  2. I live in Bannerghatta road, next to an apartment called “Ajmera Green Acres”.
    Most of the days, we are put to severe, unbearable partying noise from this apartment. Some young folks, including females make it their daily routine to party early morning 3: 00 AM. Our residents association have tried approaching them through their association, but they reply with the same excuse every time. “Our inmates have not complained yet; and so far as our inmates doesn’t feel any disturbance, why do you have a problem? “. One of our tenant tried again to talk to them, but he was threatened to be ‘handled’ by some of these partyin gang. It seems they come just for partying, as most of other times this flat is left vacant. Most of the inmates are families so they didn’t want to get into unwanted tussles with these ‘antisocials’.
    This is India, it’s really difficult to enjoy harmony and peace, as a few goons and antisocial elements take things for granted. ..

  3. Interesting postings. I have been plagued with playing by some 20-30 children, their parents and grand parents in the common areas and corridors any time of the day including cricket, basket ball, shuttle cock and what not accompanied by their shrill cries..Complained to Senior Citizen cell with Bangalore police no avail. Complained with administrators of the Apartment complex. They went ahead with amending the Rules of occupation permitting play up to 7:30 pm though there is no ‘Children play area’? Then with no option left filed a original suit in 2013 praying ip for injunction . It is yet to come up for evidence!. All theses days of agonising wait for a senior citizen who has undergone one angio plasty and one more is due. Any solution in sight? Added to this there is temple complex 10 feet away from bed room with loud ringing of bells from any time of the day to well past midnight ( those returning after a booze). And special poojas every other occasion with some 40-50 people chanting/singing/talking loudly for 3-4 hours. All this in a multi religious dwellers set up. Help less? I donot think authorities/ law will be of any use.

  4. Music torture is currently banned by the United National Convention Against Torture, but it is still permitted under U.S. law. The United National Convention Against Torture defines torture as:

    any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him, or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.

    Errol Morris’s 2008 documentary “Standard Operating Procedure” focused on abuse and torture of prisoners at the Abu Gharib prison in 2003 by U.S. soldiers. A clip from the film features a U.S. soldier explaining the use of deafening music to have a psychological impact on prisoners of war.

  5. I stay in Mico Layout opposite to Gangamma temple. Our previous owner sold the house just because of the temple disturbances which increased and never decreased. they tried giving complaints to even corporates of the area and police. but it made things worst and worst. now we are suffering. Every tuesday and friday evening 3 hours they do pooja but thats not issue. But they do all advertisements by speaking continuously for 3 hours to increase their benefits. Also they speak all unwanted stories. We have been requesting since last 3 years but never got it better. If no pooja in temple then there will be marriage or Ayyappa people, some other people coming and doing some odd programs. So helpless and dont know how to live in this country after owning heavily loaned homes. Any help please?

  6. I am living in Meditya Nagar at Mira Road. Last week a puja was held in our complex and people from outside were visiting the complex. Loudspeakers were used throughout the day during the puja and the same was intolerable. This lasted for 10 days non-stop. Now the puja is being held in the building at the side of our complex and loudspeakers are being used for doing puja. This has been going on for 2 days. The puja continues even in the night and is just disgusting. I am not against pujas, but the same can be done silently without disturbing the neighbourhood. They are insensitive to the old and sick. Please take action against them as soon as possible by approaching the Chairman or the Secretary of the building. There is not a moment of peace and I suffer from high blood pressure and other health problems and this is causing deterioration in my health.

    Awaiting action from your end as soon as possible.

    Thanking you,

    FR

  7. So Is there any law and regulation about Temple in Housing Societies???????????

    Is there any restrictions on dandiya celebration in residential society,though residents come together but not 100% only 50-60% gather.???????????

    Please raise this issue;this is very important issue.

  8. I am resident of sub-urban area of Mumbai (MMR) .Our housing society is 7-8 years old;residents are of different communities like marathi,UP,Bengali,Gujrathi,Keraly.Also each have their festivals to celebrate like Ganapati,Navratra,Ayyapa Pooja,Dutta Jayanti,Sai bhandara,Diwali,Dasara.Society also have temple inside;my flat facing to mandir.Mandir committee is appointed for all mandir activities;apart from that each community also have their commitee like Ayyapa,bengali commitee and Marathi for individual’s celebrations .So there is always competition who is celebrating on large scale due to that for whole year we have disturbances at night also student cant able to study with concetration .For every Thursday senor citizen perform Bhajans on loudspeakers from 7:30 pm to 9:45PM.In dandiya they celebrate 10 days from 7:30 PM to 1 till midnight with loudspeakers,for dusehara s start pooja morning by 7am to 3PM ,again start dhol pathak (Which is of 21 dhols in it)from 5:30Pm till 11Pm in night.It is very irritating;we can’t able to listen our conversation in house also.My both in-laws are hypertension patients.I have tried to tell them very politely but mandir committee member shouted at me.What to do???I heard that according law each one has right to perform his religious festivals,if anyone opposes;it is going to be an offence.Is there any law n regulation about Mandir in housing society????Please share its a real noise pollution creating thing in housing society,I am not against any region or community but after all it is creating health disturbance.

  9. Hi! Sir,
    I am a resident of SG Palya since last 15 years. We have the Karnataka Minister of Transport “Ramalinga Reddy” ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramalinga_Reddy ) here, who holds celebrations of Anamma festival. The temple installs the loudspeakers on our houses, and there blaring noise disturbs every peace of our life for 4-5 days. No one hears the complaints. It’s terrible.

  10. Dear Kapil,
    Pl get the environmental officer from the pollution board to come and visit the spot and take decibel measurements.The Chairman MSPCB can help to make this happen so, you may need to meet him directly.
    Shashidhar

  11. I am from pune, I live in a co-operative housing society which has a mandir in it , there a 2 loudspeakers in the society , one is hanged inside the mandir and the other is hanged at the midpoint of the society buildng. Daily without fail at 6:30 am the watchman performs puja in the mandir on loudspeaker, the puja lasts for around 25 minutes. The noise is enough to wake up a sleeping person.

    I have done the following activities to stop it.
    1) Gave a written complaint to the co-operative housing society, they kept the complaint with them for almost 3 weeks and returned the same complaint to me without any action.

    2) Gave a copy of the same complaint to MPCB (Maharashtra Pollution control Board) but no action has been take by them.

    The people who have installed these loudspeakers are members of the society commite and are not taking any responsibility to keep a check on the noise levels, infact one of the comittee member is a crime branch officer and he encourages the watchman to keep the sound level up.

    Can anybody help me here to find a correct approach to get this problem solved?

  12. For a borewell noise after 10pm I called up police (Talaghattapura). They temporarily stopped, again started once police left the place. Again I called police 3am. They took it serious, stopped again till 6am. Good work by Talaghattapura Police.

  13. Same problem with Bren Paddington project, off Sarjapur Road(Bellandur). We, residents of next door at Oceanus Triton has been complaining since last 6months. Multiple complains to police for late night noisy construction and violation of the Karnataka high court construction guidelines and timelines — but it looks like they are going ‘soft’ on them. Written complaints to the Bren mgmt folks are simply being ignored– even a written complain to their CeO elicits no response. Since last 6 months, we are staying indoors like prisoners with our doors and windows kept tight shut and in-spite of it, the noise at times is unbearable to the extend we cannot hear what we speak to each other within our dwelling units.

    In media, CREDAI members state that they respect Kar High court and Noise pollution board guidelines. however in practical , some of them just go about violating it , keeping only their objectives in mind, ignoring residents lives which are disturbed day in and out — which is getting increasing miserable, with loss of sleep, children not able to concentrate on studies and general stress level increasing because of this nuisance.
    Its time, this is escalated to the courts and if required the Apex court to protect citizens constitutional rights. In any other democratic country, a couple of class action lawsuits would have been filed and errant builders punished. We need to wake up, be courageous and assert our rights.

  14. Bengaluru Versus Mumbai – a tale of two countries.

    Can we pass laws and have our police provide the same facilities as our neighbouring country Mumbai?

    It would also help if we had a competent Supreme Court in our country like Mumbai.

    I am looking for NGOs or GOs that are empowered to stop loudspeakers & other noisemakers in our country here in Bengaluru. Please speak up I can hear you for all the din.
    Are there organizations here, such as in Mumbai:

    http://www.awaaz.org
    https://mumbaipolice.maharashtra.gov.in/complaint.asp

    Mumbai Police SMS Service: 7738 133 133 / 7738 144 144

    Noise Pollution Complaint in Mumbai
    SMS your complaint, mentioning exact location of noise, causes, consequences (if any), the exact time since the noise has been persisting and also some identification of the party or group causing the noise.

    or

    Mumbai Police Noise Pollution Helpline 022-22633333

    ———————–

    And Garbage City IT pundits are not able to create a citizen oriented website for Bengaluru Police?

    I’m also surprised that our cops are not interested in making money collecting fines using a cheap noise meter. They are making more money supporting the noise makers? Or, more likely they are part of the noise making infrastructure as they dont seem to do any ‘policing’.

  15. You did a great job and society need more people like you.
    I stay in BTM and am planning file a complain against a mosque which wakes me up everyday by 5AM.. after that I could not sleep… If I want to sleep in afternoon… every now and then they do Namaaz.I am not against any religion, if the same happens with my religion (Hindu), I react in the same way. But, people use loud speakers in the mask of religion, almost all religions.. this should be stopped..
    Can someone suggest me on how to proceed with this?

  16. religious celebration for political motives and vote-banking, by harrassing the residents of the area is now a very common thing in Bangalore. I am the employee of an IT company, and the company owners are harrassed by a newly built temple nearby causing all sorts of noise harrassment. It seems not only me, but thousands of people are daily suffering the religion. Searching google, i found many such links where across India, people are making harrassment complaints against hooligalism in the name of Hinduism or Islam.
    http://vandalismvideos.com/video/Q66yzrEnYHE/watch.html
    http://vandalismvideos.com/list.php?q=ganesh&sa.x=0&sa.y=0&filter=on
    http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-05-30/kolkata/29599670_1_club-members-loud-music-loudspeakers

  17. good work done by u sir. but in u.p. it is not possible because govt. did not help

  18. Dear Sir,

    Here in the article you are saying to contact KSPCB. but in Reality i am following them since more than one year.
    Not a single response i got.i am the Resident of JP nagar 7th Phase BOB layout 4th main. We are being tortured by the Grill work factory in our area
    we complained every where but no one is listing us. even i begged Citizen matter for help but no response. Please help.
    http://bangalore.citizenmatters.in/discussions/311-suffering-with-grill-work-factory

  19. Great work..!!! What do we do about the loudspeakers from the religious place which blares daily 5 times? The one near my house has about 8 speakers which blares very loudly. Complaining against them can even lead to communal issues 🙁

  20. There is a SC order on noise pollution which states:
    II. Loudspeakers
    1. The noise level at the boundary of the public place, where loudspeaker or public address system or any other noise source is being used shall not exceed 10 dB(A) above the ambient noise standards for the area or 75 dB(A) whichever is lower.
    2. No one shall beat a drum or tom-tom or blow a trumpet or beat or sound any instrument or use any sound amplifier at night (between 10. 00 p.m. and 6.a.m.) except in public emergencies. 3. The peripheral noise level of privately owned sound system shall not exceed by more than 5 dB(A) than the ambient air quality standard specified for the area in which it is used, at the boundary of the private place.
    Any order of police given in contravention to this can be held illegal and in contempt.

  21. K.G.Shashidhar:Useful article with relevant info; approach by Ms Kittane is great.
    Would she or anybody know about who can be contacted to measure and record noise levels.Documenting it will help the complainant, I’m sure.

  22. That’s a lot of patience and diligence. Kudos!

    Whenever househunting, even if apartments are good, if I see a temple nearby I reject the place. As simple as that. Apart from temples there is the annual Ganesha festival and the Rajyotsava which we need to endure. I wonder what the law says about borewell digging and the noise they cause. Will see if I can dig something up on that. Thanks for this post.

  23. Good stuff. I did this in 2007. From my blog:

    I decided to take on a temple in my neighborhood for noise pollution. This temple had been playing loud music, songs, chanting, etc all day (from 6am to 9:30pm) and causing us great disturbance. So I started doing research on the net about Indian noise pollution laws and judgements. As usual, I found a wealth of information. I found out who is responsible for preventing noise pollution: in most cases it is the police and if it involves industry then the Pollution Control Board can also step in. I found out about the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000, about permitted decibel levels, about how to go about filing a complaint, about previous judgments made by High Courts and the Supreme Court, esp against religious institutions.

    I’d spoken with the temple authorities many times, told them politely at first, then rudely after that. After I learnt about the law, I threatened them with a police complaint, and finally with a court case. Still no avail… for a few days after I would complain, the temple would reduce the volume and then back it would be to normal. I even made a few complaints to the Police Control Room, the police came, the volume was reduced and then a few days later it went up again.

    Finally, it was time for action. I wrote out a complaint and went to the nearest police station. It took them quite a while to digest what the complaint was about and one fellow had the gall to tell me to change my house. The junior officers were quite flummoxed, and asked me to speak directly with the Inspector. So thats just what I did. Well, the problem is quite under control now. The loudspeaker volume is fairly less. They play between 6 and 10am, and then between 6 and 9pm. We’ve been enjoying a month of heavenly peace and quiet.

  24. You have shown a great dedication in following the complain which very few show in our society. Society needs more of such people. Thanks for the nice article.

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