Moradabad Not World’s Second Noisiest City: Official Disputes UN Report

  • A UN Environment Programme report published on February 17 listed Moradabad as the world’s second noisiest city with an average noise level of 114 decibels.
  • However, the report is wrong, said a Moradabad Pollution Control Board official. The UNEP has not installed sensors in Moradabad to record such data, he said.
  • The lead author of the UNEP report said that he could not clarify this immediately, according to a news report.

Kochi: Moradabad is the world’s second noisiest city, said a UN Environment Programme report published on February 17. But an official at Moradabad’s Pollution Control Board said that’s wrong, according to ANI.

“The report is wrong,” Vikas Mishra, an official at the Moradabad Regional Office under the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board, told ANI on March 28. “There are no sensors installed by (UNEP) to measure such data here, neither [have] we received any info [sic] about such monitoring.”

World’s noisiest cities

The UNEP report in question is titled “Frontiers 2022: Noise, Blazes and Mismatches”. It gives an overview of some “emerging” environmental issues such as noise pollution in urban areas and the impacts of climate change on wildfires and phenology (the rhythmic recurrence of biological events such as flowering).

It lists Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka as the world’s noisiest city, with a noise level reaching 119 decibels (dB). Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh follows a close second at 114 dB, followed by Islamabad at 105 dB. Other Indian cities listed in the report are Delhi, Kolkata, Asansol and Jaipur (that show noise levels between 83-89 dB).

For comparison, the noise level in a library – which is usually quiet – is 40 dB. Anything above 100 dB is loud for humans. A noise level approaching 120 dB (similar to the sound of a jet taking off less than 100 m away) is uncomfortable.

According to its latest 2018 guidelines, the World Health Organisation recommends that road traffic noise not exceed 53 dB (average noise level during day, evening and night) as anything above this can cause adverse health impacts. India’s apex pollution controlling authority, the Central Pollution Control Board, has set limits on noise levels in the country. As per the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules 2000, the permissible noise limits for daytime and night are 75 dB and 70 dB respectively in industrial areas; 65 dB and 55 dB in commercial areas, and 55 dB and 45 dB respectively in residential areas.

Flawed report?

The UNEP report relied on data from studies conducted across the world. The study referenced in the UNEP report for Moradabad, however, does not list the city at all. The Indian cities it mentions are Kolkata, Aurangabad and Chandigarh. According to The Hindu, the lead author of the UNEP report, Francesco Aletta (currently with University College London), said he was unwell and unable to clarify about this immediately.