Published: Thursday 15 February 1996

Noisy silence

"We are a noise loving nation," observes S P Singal, president, Acoustical Society of India. indeed, noise has become all inalienable element of our lives. In fact, I have composed these thoughts on noise sitting at one of the noisiest points in the capital. Endeavours towards more and more comfortable living have entailed many unbecoming problems, the most alarming being noise pollution. Well, all that we seem to be doing is turning a deaf car to the problem. just a few days back there was a great brouhaha over the noise pollution in Palika Bazar (a shopping complex in the capital). But, the numerous articles which appeared in many of the city's dailies represented nothing beyond good reading.

The cynical disregard for noise pollution in general is understandable in a nation like ours, where curbing noise pollution cannot be accorded priority. Scientific investigations aimed at identifying the hazardous aspects of noise are note often left in black and white with suggestions being seldom implemented. The scientifically proven revelations against constructing houses along railway tracks seem to have been ignored. Likewise, no attention is being paid to the noise levels in shopping complexes, theatres, conference halls, sanatoria and other public places at either the construction or the furnishing stages. A gingerly move for a ban on blaring loud speakers in residential areas flare up many a nostril with religious sentiments being fanned occasionally. The quite and peace of our neighbourhoods is being sacrificed for playing loud music systems.

Motor vehicles may be given the 'pollution under control' chit, but who is to question the noise pollution caused by them? Traffic signals oil the streets - warning drivers against excessive honking - in the vicinity of schools and hospitals hardly serve 'their purpose because in most cases, bold commercial boardings divert people's attention.

I cannot help wondering as to why we do not come forward to defeat our apathy and insouciance towards noise control even though each one of us contributes significantly to it, in one form or the other. We must realise that most noises originate in our surroundings and that we must learn to nip these in the bud rather than controlling our instincts to do so. May I appeal through your column, to all fellow Citizens to work in tandem with sincerity, to defeat noise pollution? I would also like to urge the ministry of environment and forests to include the control of noise pollution in all its drives against air pollution. ...

Root out rats

The article on the plague in Surat (Down To Eat fit, Vol 4, No 13) presumed that the total extermination of rodents is all impossible task. However, an ingenuous method has been introduced to eradicate the wild hare population in parts of Australia, where these have grown out of proportion and have become an environmental menace. Bioengineers have inserted it gene into the genome of these hares to be passed on to the next generation, which in turn will not be able to produce any offspring. Will it not be possible to apply the same method to control the rodent population in the world? ...

Bad mistakes

My article oil the Kalpsar project, Gujarat (Down To Earth, Vol 4, No 16) carries certain errors.

What the story reports as the "Rs 9.76-crore dam" is actually going to cost thousands of crores. Rs 9.76 crore is meant for the pre-feasibility report. Also, it is not the Rudsamatur but the Rudramata reservoir. P A Rai, vice chairperson and managing director, Sarday Sarovar Narmada Nigim Ltd (SSNN) did not give a 'criticism' but a 'critical note'. What is printed as the Khosda committee report is really the Khosla committee report.

I world also like to draw your attention to my other article 'Damned despair' (Down To Earth, Vol 4, No 14). Lines to and I I of the first para read, "As accompanying graphs show..." but, there are no accompanying graphs. ...

Leave them alone!

I read with interest the editorial 'Conserving a wild myth', (Do" To Earth, Vol 4, No 7).

For several years I have been interested in 'wildland' mythology and its impact on rural-communities. I have recently published a review - 'Conserved to death'. In addition to furthering the economic marginalisation of rural people, protected areas are technically suspect, This is because most of the vegetation, including wildlife that we find today, has been subject to human interferences in the past and these disturbances have been overlooked while designating and managing protected areas.

I am also working on the conservation on-farm, of crop genetic resources, and find a rather similar situation in this case too. It seems that a series of spurious arguments are being used to induce poor farmers to maintain crop genetic resources for the 'global commons' rather than for their economic interests. There are many NGOs active here, and it seems some of them are fronts for overseas conservation interests. ...

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