In the true indomitable spirit of
Involvement of citizens for sustainable and long-lasting change has been stressed in UNEP’s ‘Emissions Gap Report’ of December 2020. As the collective consciousness of urban people mostly disconnected from nature engaged forcibly with direct effects of environmental destruction this year, we realized that environment defines every aspect of our lives, from financial stability to personal health.
Mumbai’s almost two-decade-long anti-noise pollution campaign may be the first of its kind globally. Notification of health-based Noise Rules and a Supreme Court Order in 2000 evolved into a citizens’ movement informed by citizens’ science data. Citizens’ action spurred the authorities to generate their own official data and
enforce Noise Rules. Festivals became gradually quieter as more people engaged, measuring noise with mobile Apps, complaining online to Police, filing complaints in courts and personally giving up noisy activities. Individuals and organizers across festivals including Eid e Milad, Ganpati and Diwali participated.
For the first time, anti-noise pollution was also supported by political will. The
Apart from most polluted, Mumbai is also among the densest cities worldwide, where the actions of a few affect health of many. By 2030, it is estimated that a population of more than 10 million will live in 7 Indian mega cities. Mumbai can demonstrate how to live without acute dangers of noise pollution to those who will follow. On
Independence Day 2020, Prime Minister Modi emphasized the need to control pollution. A special campaign is being worked out to reduce pollution in 100 selected cities with a holistic approach.
Maharashtra’s Environment Minister Aditya Thackeray reiterated protection of environment and pollution as a priority. Mumbai can lead this campaign to reduce pollution if we choose.
While noise from festivals, traffic and airports reduced during the pandemic lockdown some sources of noise continued and even intensified. Among them were religious places and construction sites. We begin the new decade with hope that citizens’ experiences with urban quiet during lockdown will result in even greater engagement
to control noise pollution from all sources. I hope that other cities in rapidly urbanizing India, drawing inspiration from Mumbai, will join hands to make the anti-noise campaign India’s success story.