Senior citizens `face the music’

Every Ganeshotsav, octogenarian Nana Puranik either stops stepping out of his apartment or goes out of the city to skirt the noise demon.

Nana has undergone a bypass surgery and faces various ailments. His best bet during the festival is to visit his relatives in rural areas. He complains of increased heart rate and changes in respiration because of loud music played out by Ganesh mandals.

“Play music and celebrate, but also think of ailing people like me and children. Before the festival, youths start practising dhol and during the festival it peaks. Adding to the problem are music systems. I don’t know how to deal with this. Nobody is ready to address this noise pollution issue.People are doing anything and everything in the name of festival, “ he said helplessly.

Nana’s family members have warned him against arguing with any mandal fearing he might be targeted by organizers.

Come Ganeshotsav, hundreds of senior citizens like Nana get worried. The festival, which is supposed to be a celebration, has become a nightmare for senior citizens.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), sounds exceeding 85 decibels could be harmful to human beings. The extent of the harm depends on the loudness and pressure of the noise as well as the duration for which a person has been exposed to it. Noise pollution can cause temporary and permanent damage to health. (See graphics) Yet, politicians are worri ed about giving an extension to the relaxation of playing loudspeakers till late night. City mayor Prashant Jagtap defended the demand for extension, saying people must enjoy the festival.

Neither the mayor, nor the politicians and mandal officials appear bothered about the concerns of senior citizens.Many senior citizens in old Peth areas have to face the noise problem every year. Despite repeated requests to mandals to reduce decibel levels, there has been no change in the situation.

The law permits sounds up to 55 decibels in residential areas from 6am to 10pm and up to 45 decibels during the night. During festivals, laws are relaxed, allowing slightly higher volumes and later curfews, provided organizers take the required permissions.

“Noise levels cross 110 decibels during the festival. It is frightening for old people like me. I don’t go outside during the festival. But even sitting in house does not help,“ said J S Patil, a senior citizen.

Source : TOI