There has been a recent upsurge in the number of two-wheelers in Gangtok town or even in Sikkim as a matter of fact. From humble beginnings like Hamara Bajaj and Yezdi, Gangtokinans have now started to prefer bigger and sleeker two-wheelers to go around the city. People have started leaving their four-wheelers at home to avoid traffic congestion. “Jamtok” as Gangtok is now being called, has brought about a new revolution in the mode of transport, especially a switchover from the four-wheelers to two-wheelers. So much so that, a two-wheeler taxi service has also started. All this to reduce travel time.
As of now Gangtok has maintained an average noise level of 51.8dB in 2015, 53.1 dB in 2016 and 45.5dB in 2017 on an average day (As per SPCB). The permissible noise level is 65dB. The problem with the data is that many a times, these bikes go unnoticed or is not very frequent. A smooth traffic noise suddenly gets rattled by these bikes which may cause sudden irritation to someone easily startled or even the sick and elderly living along the road.
If you have been a keen observer of the types of vehicles used, there has not been many choices. The new crop of riders took to the Bajaj Pulsar and then graduated to the Royal Enfield (the poor man’s Harley Davidson, if you will). There is another section of the two-wheeler club and they are the silent crusaders who move around in a scooty, be it Honda, Yamaha, TVS or most recent – The Vespa.
Noise Pollution and Gangtok
Gangtok, together with Aizawl is one of the quietest towns in India where unnecessary honking hasn’t been willingly accepted by the local populace. In fact, it is so quiet, that you often wonder whether you are stuck up in a jam or you are at home. Recently, the Transport Department has issued a notification declaring the entire city of Gangtok as a ‘No Horn Zone’.
Noise Pollution is one of the dreaded menaces that we have created for ourselves. It can be defined as an unwanted or disturbing sound which can interfere with normal activities for humans and wildlife, such as sleeping, conversation, reproduction, communication, or disrupt or diminish one’s quality of life. Long-term exposure to traffic noise may lead to coronary heart disease. It is also a menace for the city dwellers and people living along the highways and the streets of Gangtok.
The Law and Indian perspective
Among all the beautiful initiatives by the city dwellers and even the vigilant traffic department, there is suddenly an unnecessary noise that is being created by the motorcycles. Especially the ones which have tampered silencers. This is not the bane of just this city. With numerous complaints from the citizens of Bengaluru with respect to the excessive noise pollution due to Royal Enfield Bullet bikes, the traffic authorities in that city, along with Pune, Mysuru, Kerala and Haryana, have started to levy fines on the owners of these bikes who have tampered with the original silencer.
The Royal Enfield bikes is a smooth cruiser bike and releases a somewhat soothing thumping noise. The new generation of these bikes has a smoother noise level which is at par with the rules and regulations of the auto industry. However, most of the young bikers opt for aftermarket silencers on motorcycles especially on Royal Enfield bikes to enhance the thumping sound from the bike.
Modified silencers of different shapes and sizes are installed on motorcycles which is actually becoming a big nuisance. Bikers, reportedly, are customising their bike silencers to emit louder noise. Traffic Police officials in several parts of the country are stopping such vehicles and checking for modifications to the silencers. If found with any alterations leading to higher noise, bikers are charged under Section 190 (2) of Motor Vehicle Act. The Punjab Government has started doing the same to curb this noise menace in the state. It is also time for the Sikkim Police and the Transport Department to act and to put a stop to this excessive noise emanating from this modified silencers. Besides noise pollution, the enhanced thumping noise from these silencers also reduces the efficiency of the bike and is a big safety hazard.
What it tells about these bikers:
Studies have found that people who use bikes which emanate illegally loud modified motor vehicle (especially bikes) sounds, destroy the quality of life, recklessly endanger the health and welfare while violating the civil rights of every citizen.
Studies have also revealed that people who use such offensive bikes are often found to be a depressing lot and in character are narcissistic, irresponsible, abusive-bully-thug, lacking discipline, love and respect for their neighbour and their fellowmen. The study goes on to say that such people are partial retards and have low self-esteem. They prove their presence and existence to the real world by the loud noise of their bikes. They have been considered to be socially insignificant, thereby surging their self imposed rebellious personality and trying to thrust it on others. The noise of their bikes itself acts in a repulsive manner for many and would rather act counter positive.
We are an enlightened group of citizens, who have received a certain degree of knowledge and wisdom. It will be extremely sad if the authorities like the Police and the Motor Vehicle Department will have to step in. Why don’t all bikers act responsibly, with the right frame of mind and concern for the fellow citizens and replace their silencers with the original ones which come fitted with the bike on the purchase? I do hope that this article will be an eye-opener for all of them and will have a more silent peaceful city of Gangtok. Let it be a democratic choice rather than an imposed rule. The choice, of course, is yours of course before the law enforcers step in.
About the Author: Dr. Satyadeep S. Chhetri is an Associate Professor at the Nar Bahadur Bhandari Degree College (previously known as Sikkim Government College), Gangtok for the past 18 years. Having a Ph.D in Chemistry he has published his scientific work in national and international journals. Other than his professional life he has been active Civil Society member in Gangtok and is presently in the board of two of the largest NGO’s of Sikkim namely ECOSS and SAATHI . He is passionate Science communicator, and avid quizzer and has conducted more than 48 state level quizzes. He has also been writing consistently on socio political issues and has been a columnist in leading local English dailies and some magazines. He also writes Fiction and Poetry having social relevance.
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