Noise can be described as the sound that is unwanted by the person hearing it. As part of an Environmental impact assessment, it’s crucial to evaluate the impact of noise. The primary goal of this evaluation is to determine the existing noise levels in the study area and assess how future projects could affect local noise, its impact, and whether it’s acceptable. The environmental clearance committee demands a noise impact assessment to determine whether your project has any adverse environmental effects, such as nearby residential areas, communal areas, forests, or other businesses. Noise assessment is governed by regulations in India, including The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, The Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000, and the role of institutions such as the National Green Tribunal and the Central Pollution Control Board.
EIA Guidelines in Noise Level Assessment
The primary aim of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study is to ensure that the proposed activity does not have any negative impact on the local environment in terms of noise levels. In cases where the existing ambient noise levels are high, the project proponent will be advised to implement control measures to prevent the proposed activity from increasing the ambient noise levels further.
The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) will be conducted using the following steps:
- Identifying the potential noise-generating activities associated with the proposed/existing activity.
- Evaluating the typical sound (noise) levels generated by the identified noise sources, either through a literature review or by analyzing similar sources.
- Based on plant or utility records, assessing the expected duration of worker exposure to the noise generated by the identified noise sources.
- The ambient noise levels within the workspace must be evaluated. If the noise exposure levels exceed the acceptable limits, appropriate noise control measures such as personal protective equipment or installing barriers or enclosures should be recommended.
- The EIA is conducted within an impact area ranging from 3 to 25 kilometres, or sometimes more, depending on the objectives and potential activities associated with the proposed project. Baseline ambient noise levels in the study area must be determined by monitoring at various stations.
- The ambient noise levels must be analyzed based on specific parameters and compared to the ambient noise level standards for the study region. If the observed values exceed the prescribed limits, the potential causes of the elevated noise levels must be investigated.
- The expected impact of the noise generated by the proposed activity on the local environment should be predicted based on the baseline noise levels.
Noise Impact Assessment Process
Both residential and industrial areas necessitate the submission of assessment reports during the project planning phase. This ensures appropriate measures are taken to mitigate noise impact and provide sufficient protection for future residents. By implementing assessment planning, it is also possible to mitigate other negative effects on health and overall quality of life that may arise from new developments.
Sources of Noise Pollution In Case Of Development Projects
As the list of projects requiring EIA can have different factors during construction and operation, the first step must be identifying all possible noise-generating activities. The primary sources of noise are associated with the following:
- Construction sites (including equipment and vehicle activity)
- Other stationary noise sources such as shopping centers, parking lots, and bus depots.
Noise Sensitive Areas
The next stage must be the identification of the regions that will be affected. Along with this, the sensitivity of the region to noise must also be considered. The areas that are susceptible to noise impact due to high noise levels include:
- Residential areas refer to sites with houses or apartments.
- Institutional areas include libraries, schools, universities, hospitals, clinics, public workshops, and theatres.
- Other regions, including hostels, parks, and other public spaces.
Noise Tolerant Areas
There are areas where a certain level of noise can be tolerated due to their low population density. These noise-tolerant areas may include:
- Multi-level car parking structures
- Shopping malls
- Corporate offices equipped with noise insulation
- Commercial centres and communities.
Regulations on Noise Impact Assessment
- The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986: This act provides the legal framework for environmental protection in India and empowers the central government to take measures to protect and improve the environment.
- The Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 specify the permissible noise levels for different zones, time periods, and activities. They also require the preparation of a noise mapping report and a noise action plan for major cities.
- The National Green Tribunal: This is a specialized court that deals with environmental disputes and provides speedy resolution of causes related to noise pollution.
- The Central Pollution Control Board: India’s apex environmental protection regulatory body, provides technical guidance and support.
- The State Pollution Control Boards: These boards are responsible for implementing the noise pollution rules in their respective states and monitoring compliance by industries and other stakeholders.
Documents Required In Noise Impact Assessment Report
The documents required in case of noise impact assessment are as follows:
- Site location.
- Site plan.
- Site photographs.
- Land use details.
- Meteorological data.
- Noise source details.
- Project details.
- Project description.
- Noise impact assessment report.
- Noise mapping report.
- Noise action plan.
- Expert opinions.
- Compliance report.
Overview of Noise Impact Assessment Report
The Report should consist of the following:
- Project Details: Includes project name, client details, consultant details, and duration of the assessment activity.
- Project Description: Contains information about the development project and its impact.
- Noise Assessment Planning Policy: Provides an outline guidance for assessing noise affecting new developments.
- Noise Affecting Development: Compares current noise levels and noise impacts in detail to identify problem areas.
- Survey Result: Includes readings recorded during the assessment period and a map showing high-impact and sensitive areas.
- Conclusion: Explain the assessment activity’s outcome in detail and outline actions to mitigate the noise impact.
Noise impact assessment is a necessary process that helps to identify and evaluate the potential noise impacts of a proposed development on the environment and nearby communities. Noise assessment plays a crucial role in promoting sustainable development by ensuring that the environmental impacts of new projects are properly evaluated and addressed. It is recommended to take expert guidance while conducting any Environmental Assessment to comply with all laws and regulations and for a hassle-free experience.