Mumbai has a noise problem. In 2016, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) led a study to map out noise levels around the city and found that many locations recorded noise levels above permissible levels. BMC found that the majority of the locations recorded an average noise level of average of 75dB during the day and 65dB at night even in residential areas. This is above the regulation mandating a maximum noise level around residential and silent zones (such as schools, religious sites’ and hospitals) of 55dB and 50dB in the day and 45dB and 40dB at night. The high level of noise pollution in this study has been echoed in other studies performed by nonprofits and researchers.
One contributor to the noise levels in Mumbai is traffic. In addition to the noise from cars and trucks driving along heavily traveled roads, incessant honking is a problem. The honking from impatient drivers, even while waiting at a red light is so bad that the Mumbai Police have come up with a clever way to force drivers to produce less noise. In a Tweet that has since gone viral, the Mumbai Police explained how they have set up noise meters at select traffic signals around the city called “Punishing Signals”. These traffic signals have a timer that lets the waiting drivers know how many seconds until the light turns green. The noise meters measure the amount of noise coming from cars. If the noise coming from honking drivers reaches above 85dB, the timing resets, prolonging the wait for the green. The campaign is aptly entitled, “Honk more, wait more.”
You can watch the video from the Mumbai Police who proclaim, “we were itching to do something about” Mumbai’s status as the “honking capital of the world.”
Bhave, P. P., & Shaikh, B. (2014). Noise Pollution Status in Central Mumbai: A Comparative Study. In From Sources to Solution (pp. 491-495). Springer, Singapore.
Kalawapudi, K., Singh, T., Dey, J., Vijay, R., & Kumar, R. (2020). Noise pollution in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR): An emerging environmental threat. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 192(2), 152.