Noise Pollution: Samju Desi – A Wise Desi

Author: 
Sanjiv Jani

Sanjiv Jani is a resident of Rajkot in Saurashtra, also known as Sorath of Kathiawar peninsular region of Gujarat. By profession Sanjiv is Superintendent of Central GST but is a man of varied interests such as stage and TV artist, writer director of short films with social message and an activist. Saṇjiv has taken up many social causes like campaign against noise pollution etc. Sanjiv is passionate about his favourite causes and ever willing to go the extra mile to fulfill his dreams.

I saw a dream which did not let me sleep. It happened when I was posted as Customs (Preventive) Officer in 2014 in Reliance Special Economic Zone, near Jamnagar. For the first time in my service career, I was allotted a residential quarter in the Reliance township. It was my first experience of living in an organized dwelling akin to a modern gated community. Usually, I lived in the Reliance colony for five days a week. I used to rush off on weekends to be with my family at Rajkot which was only 90 kms away.

As I started living in Reliance colony I realised that how peaceful it was. It was almost free of any noise pollution which I experienced every time in the city life at Rajkot. I observed that against permissible emission limit of 80 decibel as prescribed under Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 , a large number of people, without fear of Police or R.T.O., had fitted horns with output of 250 decibels — three times higher than legally permitted limit of 80 decibels. This was in gross violation of the rules which led to intense honking pollution in Rajkot. No wonder it was so difficult to walk on the streets of Rajkot. The noise at times was deafening.

I observed that vehicles fitted with high-tone horns were fearlessly moving around ranging from bikes to cars and SUVs. Trucks and water-tankers fitted with musical horns used their high noise horns unabated. These honkers were callous and insensitive. They would go on honking without considering whether in front were children or senior citizens or pregnant ladies, the most vulnerable members of the society on the roads.

The law-abiding citizens had no recourse to redressal. They felt helpless to do anything to these big fat muscle/money powered people whom I called ‘junglees’. In my opinion only the law-enforcement agencies were in a position to curb this nuisance. And this nuisance was spreading very quickly across the other cities of Gujarat. These type of horribly loud horns are used as a means to get their way very arrogantly, insensitively and without fear of any type of law enforcement.

At this point, it struck my mind that something should be done to curb the city noises especially emissions from vehicular horns. And thus I decided to take matters in my hands. I decided to meet the law enforcement authorities, personally.

I approached the Police Commissioner with a simple power-point presentation on 03.11.15 requesting for a ban on fitting high-decibel horns on vehicles — a major harassment to the public. But the response was typicality bureaucratic — dekhenge. From top down. It was apparently not a priority with them.

Disheartened, I thought of the other options. I decided to create a Facebook page Movement Against High-tone Horns to check out whether what I felt was also a harassment ‘felt’ by the public. The experiment clicked and was a huge success. People poured in to not only to ‘like’ the page (916 likes) but also offered valuable suggestions. These suggestions became my base for my onward journey to eradicate this nuisance called ‘high-tone horns’.

I also filed a petition on change.org. Many people supported my online campaign.

Meanwhile, I found out from the Facebook page that like-minded activists were willing to support this campaign started by me with no real supporters till then. I then chalked out a 20-point program. I am recounting some of the highlights below:

  • A Sticker Movement to affix stickers on vehicles. The supporters were named as Silent Ambassadors.
  •  

    Children participating in the Sticker Movement.

     
  • We organized a Silent Walk on 16th August 2015. The march ended with an Oath being administered to nearly 250 citizens on Following the Traffic Rules.
  •  

    Sanjiv Jani with anti noise pollution activists.

     
  • To display awareness posters on 16 multimedia screens in Lok-Mela of August 2015 having footfall of 20 lac people over five day celebrations.
  • Numerous talk shows on FM radio like All India Radio, Radio Mirchi and Red FM.
  • Releasing press hand outs. Rajkot press kept on publishing my press notes religiously. Thanks, media!
  •  

    Media coverage of the campaign in Sandesh daily newspaper on July 7, 2016.

     

Posting of a new Police Commissioner Shri Anupam Singh Gehlot changed the attitude of the police personnel and came as a blessing. With my activist friends I met the new Commissioner and handed over our presentation which was lying on his predecessor’s desk for more than 18 months. The response from new CP was surprisingly quite favourable.

In just 15 days’ drive (only for high-tone horns) more than 700 high-decibel horns from 350 vehicles including trucks, school vans, Bullet motorcycles, utility tempos and company staff buses were removed and confiscated. And some of these confiscated horns were symbolically destroyed by the Traffic Branch of Rajkot Police. We, the activists, were present at that ceremony.

 

Rajkot Traffic Police seizing high-tone horns.

 

Not only this, I urged the authorities to take the following steps, for hitting at the root of this pollution, leaving no stone unturned.

  • Letter to Transport Association leader not to use musical horns in city limits (through Traffic Branch).
  • Letter to Municipal Commissioner. City Engineer to warn city buses to remove high-tone horns from all the buses (through Traffic Branch).
  • Letters to nearly 310 secondary/higher secondary schools and 20 colleges for ensuring that students do not come with vehicles fitted with extra horns.
  • We regularly started provided data on vehicles fitted with extra horns to ACP (Traffic) which we gathered from appeal on WhatsApp/Facebook and from our contacts/public.
  • The police then started tracking down such offenders through their software ‘Eklavya’ with the ability to serve challans of Rs. 1000/- to the owners. This campaign was prior to the ‘I Way’ project of installation of 750 CCTV cameras across the city from 2017.
  • With the help of Rajkot Traffic Police we made a Poster Drive affixing posters on Noise Pollution behind 100 auto-rickshaws.
  •  

    Rajkot Traffic Police participating in the Sticker drive to create awareness about high-tone horns.

     
  • We appraised the Prime Minister’s Office about this nuisance. Consequently PMO directed the State Transport Commissioner to look into the matter.
  • Created a short film ‘Kaan-Sharam: Don’t BHonk Yaar’. It is uploaded on YouTube.

The fight against noise pollution was exhausting and tiring. 8 months of relentless work made my activist friends believe in me and have faith in capacity to get results. Their support became crucial for our movement. Police support continued despite change of personnel at various police stations.

I am surprised that a movement which was started by me alone has gathered so much support. I am day by day believing and convincing myself strongly that what I started just as a mere thought 36 months ago, is actually now in the minds of many more people, organizations and change-agents.

The Movement against high-tone horns has transformed me into a Samju Desi who started to believe that if we can be wise enough to think how to stream line the chaotic social arrangements, we can live in a better and peaceful environment without much efforts.

My brain-child Samju Desi is a thought. A social responsibility. A holistic approach for spreading nobleness in the society with a clear message that come forward and become and makes Samju Desi.

At this moment, I would also like to show my gratitude and love towards my family and my higher ups, who patiently supported my Movement and Transformation as Samju Desi without putting any obstacles or road blocks, as I devoted much time for this social cause, balancing my role as an activist, my office work and my personal life.

That’s all for the day. Join the movement is my appeal.

Comments

I m proud of my colleague Sanjiv Jani. He is doing very appreciable job. Keep it up.

Nisha ji, I am grateful for your expression. You and other colleagues have always been supporters in this noble cause. This gives real strength to the movement.

Hi, sanjiv keep it up, we are with you,

Hello Vivek, hope to see you in more social activities in due course. Thanks.

Wish you a very happy birthday dear Sanjay.

Hello Maitrey, thank you very much.

The noise pollution in India is more obvious to NRIs, who often live in quiet suburbs. So, I am thrilled that you have brought about this change. Light pollution is another increasing problem. Bot of these have long term negative effects on people's minds and bodies.

Hello Subodh ji, thanks for drawing attention to the light pollution. Apart from light pollution from static light, there is a nuisance growing of is moving lights of vehicles - the China-made white blinding LED lights which are fitted illegally (modifying the company fitted light). These are very dangerous and risky for the vehicle driver or citizens facing it. A ban is needed on such illegal white blinding lights soon.

A very great initiative Sanjiv ji, wish the whole country is made aware of this. Best wishes to you and the entire team involved 💐💐 The silent blessings of numerous citizens of Rajkot will be showering on you, your family and all those involved

Hello Meenasekaran ma'am, I am very much thankful and grateful for your kind words of admiration and inspiration.

A superb campaign,
with you
શુભેચ્છા શુભેચ્છા

Thank you very much for your wishes dear Bhagirathsinh. Stay connected.

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