Chennai autorickshaws are affecting your hearing

If you have lived in Chennai for a few years, you would have come to realise that autorickshaws enjoy an exalted status in this city. There are a large number of the yellow three wheelers, and the one thing that distinguishes them most even from a distance is the ear-shattering noise that they emit. (The other is their freedom to charge whatever they wish).

The Hindu today explains what all those who have spent some time in Chennai readily recognise – that the autorickshaws here do not have proper silencers, and in some cases, none at all.

Going beyond what the newspaper states, we must add the following:

That the Police, which is responsible for implementing the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules as amended in 2010 is wholly derelict. It is preposterous that an IPS officer quoted in The Hindu report says he must now start a new drive in coordination with the Transport Department against silencers being tampered with. What he has admitted is that his department is just not doing its job.

Another observation in the report, that street vendors have started showing signs of sensory-neural hearing loss should be ringing alarm bells for the DMK Government, for Mr. V.K.Subburaj, the Health Secretary and the Director of Public Health, all of whom keep preaching awareness of various health risks. It is unlikely that the policemen themselves have escaped the consequences of their inaction – many of them might have lost their ability to hear some frequencies at low amplitudes.

In any case, the law on silencers is clear. Every motor vehicle should have one, and in the case of three wheelers running on petrol, the maximum allowed noise is 82 dB (A), while diesel-driven three wheelers can emit a more generous 85 dB (A). Contrast this with the reported observation that many of Chennai’s autorickshaws emit a deafening 140 dB (A). It is criminal on the part of the Tamil Nadu government to maintain a silence over this and for the Police to pretend that there is no problem.

Also, the state of the art is that diesel commercial vehicles sold in India do not incorporate noise dampening designs, and they do not have common rail engines which render diesels silent (have you heard a diesel Benz roaring?)

It is time the Tamil Nadu government woke up to the loud noise around it, and behaved responsibly and, more importantly, upheld the public health law on noise.

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