Tiruchi neighbourhoods hit by noise pollution

Residents say they are disturbed by the amplified voices from loudspeakers used by vendors in Tiruchi.

Residents say they are disturbed by the amplified voices from loudspeakers used by vendors in Tiruchi.

Despite the lockdown and the new normal of restricted working hours, not many places in the city can claim to be noise-free. Whether it is the din caused by road traffic, factory sirens, construction sites, fireworks or amplified announcements and songs played over public address systems, Tiruchi’s residents are being increasingly exposed to ‘second-hand noise.’

The lockdown’s new emphasis on mobile vending has given many sellers a chance to publicise their ware through audio announcements played on loop. This is more common in areas such as Thillai Nagar where a significant number of commercial enterprises co-exist with individual houses and apartments. “The advertisements start at around 6 a.m. and as more sellers join in through the day, it becomes a flood of noise - be it vegetable, herbal coffee, clothes or snacks, everything under the sun is being sold amid this cacophony. The noise is unbearable, especially when it goes on until late evening,” K.V. Narayanan, a long-time resident of Thillai Nagar, told The Hindu .

A new sonic disturbance has emerged in the form of public service announcements (PSAs) played at the traffic junctions in Tiruchi, where messages about COVID-19 safety protocols are interspersed with instrumental film melodies. While well-intentioned, the PSAs are more of a menace to the permanent residents and those who work on the road, such as labourers and police personnel, said city resident K. Mahadevan.

“I have stopped opening my windows because the loud announcements at the traffic junction give me a headache,” he said. “The noise is especially disturbing for hospitals and schools, which are officially meant to be silent zones. People working daily in the vicinity of the noisy area like labourers and policemen, are indirectly affected by the noise. Is there any proof that these announcements will help the road user or motorist?” he said.

A recent study by Gnanamani College of Engineering, Namakkal, used Geographical Information System (GIS) mapping to measure the noise levels in Railway Junction, 2020 Food Corner, Ponnagar Post Office, Bharathiar Salai and Dr. Ambedkar Street. Road noise levels between 17.24 to 72.62 decibels were recorded during peak and non-peak hours of traffic.

Noise pollution is a threat not just to the environment, but also human health. Prolonged exposure to unwanted sounds can disturb mental balance, increase sensitivity to stress and can also creating permanent hearing loss, say medical studies. “Noise pollution has destroyed the calm of our neighbourhood. I hope the authorities will frame some guidelines on this soon,” said Mr. Narayanan.

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Printable version | May 23, 2022 5:41:22 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/tiruchi-neighbourhoods-hit-by-noise-pollution/article38314391.ece