Residents of buildings near the Metro construction sites in south Mumbai fear noise pollution levels will rise again during the night, after the Bombay high court (HC) on Friday allowed work on the underground line to resume between 10pm and 6am, but asked the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) to not exceed permissible noise limits.

“…It is impossible to carry out construction with heavy machinery and not surpass noise levels of 45 decibel (dB) for residential areas at night,” said Robin Jaisinghani, a resident of Cuffe Parade, who filed a petition in August 2017 against MMRCL and the state, seeking compensation of ₹10,000 a day for each member of his family.

Jaisinghani said average noise levels from Metro work are not less than 80dB.

In December last year, city-based NGO Watchdog Foundation had carried out noise measurements at Marol and found levels were as loud as 92dB-102dB from rock drilling machines. MMRCL had directed its contractor at the Metro-3 construction yard at Marol to install sound-proofing windows at houses facing the site.

Later, the project was to be implemented at all Metro construction areas depending on its success at Marol. However, a follow-up by the NGO revealed that there were no measures taken to curb high noise levels.

Jaisinghani said the state, too, had been asked to set up a facility for residents to complain about noise and the enforcement authority (Mumbai police) would need to attend to complaints. “Similar directives have been issued in the past, which forced us to go to court, and now the whole process has begun again,” he said.

Environmental lawyers said the rights of common citizens must be balanced with development. “Giving more weight to development, in this case, is against the rights of citizens, as people work hard throughout the day, and they require a proper night’s sleep. A Supreme Court judgement clearly mandates this, and HC should have taken this reference before passing the order. As of now, directions issued by the court need to be followed strictly,” said Asim Sarode, environment lawyer at the Bombay HC and the National Green Tribunal (NGT).

“For senior citizens, the constant drilling and vibration leads to health ailments. Since these activities are restarting, people will face similar problems again,” said Sudarshan Loyalka, 71, a south Mumbai resident. “Even if sound barriers are installed, people living in apartment complexes from the fourth storey onward will be exposed to even louder noise levels.”

Zoru Bathena, activist and member of HC appointed noise monitoring committee to check metro construction noise, said, “If noise mitigation measures are carried out properly, then there should be some relief for citizens. If the citizens are affected by the noise, they need to go back to the court and ask for relief.”

First Published: Aug 25, 2018 00:47 IST

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