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More Light, Less Sound Noise Pollution


The ‘festival of lights’ should not be allowed to deteriorate into a celebration of noise. Fireworks are traditionally associated with joyful festivities worldwide, but many of them are harmful, often excessively loud, and emit harmful fumes when ignited.


GS3- Environmental Pollution and Degradation

Mains Question:

To abate noise crisis, governments must prevent making of violative firecrackers. Analyse. (10 marks, 150 words).

Legislations Governing Noise Pollution:

  • In 2018, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research introduced “green” fireworks that are less harmful and less noisy, and their usage has been mandated by various regulatory bodies.
  • The Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules of 2000 specify that fireworks should not be ignited in “silence zones” designated by state governments and not after 10 p.m. Firecracker noise during the daytime (from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.) and in industrial areas should not exceed 75 dB(A) Leq.
  • The noise limits in commercial and residential areas are 65 dB(A) Leq and 55 dB(A) Leq, respectively. In these limits, dB represents decibels, A is a weighting scale for human perception of loudness, and Leq indicates a time-averaged figure.
  • The rules also permit individuals to file a complaint if the noise exceeds these limits by 10 dB(A) Leq during the daytime.

Impact of Noise Pollution:

  • Because decibels are a logarithmic unit, a 10 dB increase implies a tenfold rise in acoustic pressure, often reaching a point where the sound becomes harmful.
  • Research has established links between loud environments and various health issues such as sleep disorders, tinnitus, stress, anxiety, hearing loss, and cardiac problems.
  • Noise levels exceeding 80 dB(A) in offices have been associated with hypertension, while noise levels above 50 dB(A) at night, when the body is unaccustomed to loud sounds, can elevate cortisol levels.
  • Traffic noise has surged in cities due to unregulated development, compelling motorists to excessively use horns.
  • Many religious celebrations have become synonymous with noisy festivities regardless of the time.

Issues associated with the management of noise pollution:

  • During Deepavali, fireworks, even the “green” ones, often generate more than 90 dB of noise. For instance, if people ignite fireworks at 90 dB for 10 seconds and the background noise is 50 dB for 50 seconds, repeating this pattern for four hours followed by 12 hours of 50 dB noise, the 16-hour Leq averages at 74.5 dB. This would warrant a complaint in residential areas but not in commercial ones, yet the noise is already harmful.
  • Additionally, different loudness zones are rarely publicly defined, and some areas serve both residential and commercial purposes.
  • The rules are unclear about the penalties for violators, and enforcement remains ambiguous. Therefore, concentrating on marginal improvements to fireworks before every festival is becoming a diversion.


India’s noise problem is a significant public health crisis. To prevent fireworks from exacerbating the situation, governments should prohibit the production of non-compliant fireworks altogether, and cities should enhance public access to noise data and adopt noise reduction targets.

February 2024