An Audio Concern

In some countries honking horns is prohibited, and considered a sign of indecency
Representational Image
Representational Image Flickr [Creative Commons]

Human beings don’t like noise, nor does mankind in general approve of any kind of pollution. Among the outer organs of human body ears are the most vital; those deal with hearing of near or distant voices. With eyes shut you can still recognise a person through speech.

Hearing mechanism does not sleep. It works as a sentinel to inform you while asleep. Hearing is said to be half seeing. Heard words are acted upon.

A blind is guided to move safe provided his sense of hearing is intact and communicated at a reasonably audible distance in clear words & direction.

In The Quran Allah has at various places sequenced the mention of three organs in the order of hearing, seeing and the heart, so that people may ponder and be grateful to Him.

Science is yet to discover the divine wisdom in the shape of ears. Else there would have been simply two holes. While barricaded eyes can’t see even through a thin wall or the slightest opaque screen ears barricaded by heavy and numerous obstructions can easily hear from far off distances. Hearing can help memorise things.

This system enables appropriate response to stimuli and thus does some visionary work of the eyes also. Man is cautioned to protect hearing system and not waste or damage it through over-charging shrieks, impurities or impiety.

After a range of volume a voice becomes a noise and beyond that a pollution detrimental to the audio system otherwise harmoniously arranged with other ENT cells.

For conveyance these ranges are scaled 65 decibels as safe level, 66 up to 80 as border and beyond that red zone sure to damage audio health and sometimes even destroy hearing power forcing to use the artificial hearing aids to at least conserve the deteriorated base.

Irrefutably there is too much pressure on hearing mechanism nowadays due to the growing population which has increased the density per kilometer on the earth leading , inter alia, to the use of increased number of gadgets, devices, machinery and especially vehicles plying on the roads round the clock.

According to estimates (5/2021) the population of the world was 7.6 billion and an estimated 1.4 billion cars plied on the roads that put the vehicles saturation at around 18 percent. In 2015 around 947 million passenger cars and 335 million commercial motor vehicles were in operation in the world with China having the largest fleet of 378 millions.

In some countries honking of horns is prohibited and considered a sign of indecency. In our case the use of pressure horns has gone maniac with everyone trying to outpost the other with chilling screams with the result a horn meant to play to just inform the passersby to harbour safe frustrates them to face adverse.

Some horns make of dog barks, some oink of a pig, some howl of a jackal, some roar of a lion, some gekkering, some honk or scream as foxes all flashing sounds unpleasant and unbearable for chemistry of human ear, brain and mind. While animals do not disturb one another except in provocation or for fear of security, humans unprovoked inflict incessantly injuries on fellow beings.

The choice of colour of vehicle, tune and tenor of a horn played is a personality reflection also divulging intuitional moorings in colour combination and musical notes.

Viewing the necessity and the importance of the management of the horns, pressure horns and the related vehicle noise pollution the Motor Vehicles Act/Rules have laid down certain and definite provisions to ward off the noise pollution with use of pressure horns invoked as an offence punishable under Section 190(2) of the Central Motor Vehicles Act 1988.

It lays down that for (i) violating Noise and Air Pollution Standards, (ii) Loading Projection Violations, and (iii) Blowing Pressure Horns/Multi-toned Horns a fine of Rs.1,000/ in each case for first offence and Rs.2,000/ for second offence is to be imposed.

Rule 119 (2) of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules 1989, says that no motor vehicle shall be fitted with any multi-toned horn giving a succession of different notes or with any other sound-producing device giving an unduly harsh, shrill, loud or alarming noise.

It also prescribes that every motor vehicle manufactured shall be fitted with an electric horn or other device conforming to the requirements of IS: 1884-1992 specified by the Bureau of Indian Standards for use by the driver of the vehicle and capable of giving audible and sufficient warning of the approach or position of the vehicle. Exceptions are ambulances, or for fire fighting, salvage purposes or vehicles used by the Police Officers or officers of the Motor Vehicles Department during their duties.

Any modification to the silencer which produces noise more than 80 decibels is not allowed. Silencers come in many shapes and sizes. They can be classified into four types as reactive, dissipative, absorptive, and dispersive or diffusive.

For five categories of motor vehicles with first being the smallest two wheeler petrol driven and the last & the largest being passenger/commercial vehicles with gross weight of above 12,000 kgs the maximum permissible noise levels range between 80 dB(A) to 91 dB(A) respectively as per Indian Standards IS:3028-1980.

These limitations are not for any mechanical embellishments but to ensure safe hearing health. Inherent in the rapid technological advancement and AI also there is a backlash of war against the sight through the flow of internet data, radiations, screen shows/displays and to the hearing through noise pollutions.

Consequently there is an increasing number of ENT ailments world over with brain becoming less functional or malfunctional, mind getting disturbed and the heart perturbed. Noise from pressure horns impacts severely human health physically and psychologically.

The frequent exposure to pressure horns can cause hearing difficulties or damage tympanic membrane permanently. It is responsible for anxiety, stress, high blood pressure and hypertension. It affects immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and the growth process.

A Supreme Court ruling (6/10/2017), under Section 119(2) of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules 1989 also banned the use of hooters and pressure horns within a radius of 100m around schools, hospitals, residential and the commercial areas.

Surprisingly, barring some schools and hospitals, no residential or commercial areas have remained beyond the radius of 100 meters to enjoy immunity. The areas buzz with multifarious kinds of penetrating sounds mostly to the chagrin of mental equanimity.

To prevent this audio concern, Traffic Police, Department of Motor Vehicles and the Pollution Control authorities can in exercise of the relevant protective & prohibitive provisions of the Act/Rules and the Apex Court ruling on the subject ensure implementation of ban on the use of pressure horns.

The authorities concerned may be justified in public interest to act tough against the wrong doers insensitive to normal course.

The author is a former Sr. Audit Officer and Consultant in the A.G’s Office Srinagar.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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