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Panel Discussion On : Noise Pollution Control Killing Music

Event: PALM EXPO Summit - Conference & Seminar 2019

Sushma Gaikwad, Co-Founder and Director of Ice Global

Panelists: ModeratorSushma Gaikwad, Co-Founder and Director of Ice Global; Speakers Milind Raorane, Electro-Acoustic Design Consultant, Owner Soundframe Consulting; Pramod Chandorkar - Director at Sound Ideaz Academy and Honorary Chairman, IRAA Awards; Mohomed Morani, Managing Director, Cineyug Entertainment

Date: 30 May 2019

Time: 17:50 – 18:50

Venue: International Lounge, Hall1 Mezzanine, BEC,


Industry Focus: Noise Pollution Rules & Regulations

Milind Raorane, Electro-Acoustic Design Consultant, Owner Soundframe Consulting

Synopsis of topic of Discussion: 

In September 2018, the Bombay High Court refused to grant relief to PALA (Pro Audio Light Association) seeking use of “DJ music” and other audio systems during Ganapati immersions and Navratri. HC announced a complete ban on the use of DJ or sound systems during Ganpati Visarjan (immersion) because of increasing noise pollution. The session conducted at the PALM Summit 2019 discussed knowledgeably about noise and decibel levels at live stage events, whether a ban on the use of sound systems for live events - be it cultural festivals or music concerts is a practical solution, the balance between organized sound shows and noise on the streets and wherein lies the golden medium.

 Key Highlight of Discussion:

Pramod Chandorkar, Director at Sound Ideaz Academy

Outdated Laws: Maximum noise levels permissible under the rules for various areas range between 50 and 75 decibels during the day and between 40 and 70 decibels at night. When the law was formulated in 1986 and implemented in 2000, the ambient noise on the street during that period was taken into consideration. Today, ambient noise levels have increased phenomenally due to various factors, which include construction and traffic on the street, which means even a minute amplification of 5 db of the loudspeaker volume will tantamount to the law being breached as soon as the systems are put on.

Enforcement: Do officials entrusted with the duty of measuring sound levels possess the expertise to perform this duty in a correct manner as per guidelines issued by law?

Noise Monitoring Tools: Moreover do they possess the required devices to check noise levels/pollution. Ideally, a Sound Meter which measures LEQ should be utilized.

Mohomed Morani, Managing Director, Cineyug Entertainment

Classification of Sound Equipment: The law has equated loudspeakers, public address system and the musical instruments by classifying them in the same category; there is no clear differentiation to distinguish sound systems. Everything is referred to as Dolby or DJ systems no matter what kind of a system it really is. Conical loudspeakers used in political rallies and houses of worship are intended to throw sound to larger/longer distances, while sound systems used in musical live shows have “dispersion control” and can be arrayed to the audience in the venue (who have come there by their own will), reducing sound dispersed outside the venue.

Emulating the West: Another concern is that the law in India is a copy-paste job of laws in western countries, but it is important to note several aspects. For instance, internationally also there is a provision wherein the sound levels can vary by 5 to 6db can above the ambient noise at times. All it takes in India is one phone call complaining about noise nuisance to stop a licensed live event with all permissions in place. In western countries, officers must first issue a warning and secondly the complainant must be willing to allow officers to verify how the noise sounds from their premises.

Implementation of rules: In the present scenario the implementation of rules appear to be skewed, wherein cultural festivals like Ganesh Visarjan and Navratri or live musical events are singled out.

Suggested Solutions:

The law mandates that ambient noise levels must be maintained at public places even during festivals and as in every civilized nation, they definitely MUST be maintained, however with proper guidelines, rules and regulations, revised laws and correct implementation.

The entertainment industry has a big impact on the economy, which may get affected, if sound pollution issues are not rationalized. It was concluded that putting a blanket ban on the use of sound systems for only specific events isn’t going to help anybody, what will help is practical and concrete solutions which include, but not limited to the following:

Create a body comprising event companies and audio companies, which is recognized by the government. The body can take forward issues to the government.

Decibels levels should be recalculated accurately

Categorize performance areas, which include grounds, arenas and stadiums into two types - secured and unsecured arenas, should be forwarded to concerned authorities. Unsecured could be performances on loudspeakers, on road or processions, etc.

After classification, get the secured venues clear for SPL’s with real-time data or relevant data, then work on the unsecured areas. All studies should be done, again very meticulously and studies to be submitted to concerned authorities for clearance.

Laws should be revisited and revised and concrete, practical laws should be put in place, supported by proper implementation.

Audio industry should be streamlined wherein audio industry licensing becomes mandatory. All rental companies need to be licensed and a system needs to be put in place wherein there is some sort of monitoring where the license is revoked after repeated violations of the law.

Create a system to educate small, unorganized audio people so that they earn the license first.

Transcript of Panel Discussion

Sushma Gaikwad: We are going to discuss about a very important subject today. It is something, which is going to affect everyone because as a country, we are hooked on to movies and entertainment and this industry is about entertainment and live interaction. Here’s what we are hoping to bring to you - an open discussion about Noise Pollution. Firstly, is it really affecting the music industry and if it is, then how? So, that is what today’s discussion is about. Do you think that noise pollution is really affecting the music industry?

Audience (Prashop Saini): Noise pollution is a thought that the public needs to understand. Our industry has expanded so much. Today as we understand, India is a sunrise sector. Most of the entities do not know what the regulations are all about. It’s mostly affecting the industry because of the lack of awareness about rules and regulations. People are unable to understand what exactly to do whenever they encounter a problem like Noise pollution.

from l-r: Smita Rai - Conference Director PALM Expo 2019, Milind Raorane - Electro-Acoustic Design Consultant, Owner Soundframe Consulting; Mohomed Morani - Managing Director, Cineyug Entertainment; Pramod Chandorkar - Director at Sound Ideaz Academy; Sushma Gaikwad - Co-Founder and Director of Ice Global and Anil Chopra - Founder Director, PALM Expo

Sushma Gaikwad: Very well said and I think awareness is critical. We are actually going to dissect the aspect of awareness in this session.

Firstly, the reason we are here is that there is a complete lack of awareness.

Secondly, we need to understand that if you are talking about noise pollution control, is it really killing us, or is it the lack of awareness about how to manage noise pollution control that is killing us.

Thirdly, do we really want to get to the bottom of it and understand what the law is?

Here, I am going to direct my first question to Milind Raorane. We all know that the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules were passed in 2000, but what actually does the law state?

Milind Raorane: What the government has done is that they have divided the entire topography of areas into four parts - silence, residential, commercial, and industrial zones. Silence zones are zones where you have religious structures or courts, schools, and hospitals around you within 100 meters. Anything that fits into 100 meters proximity is silence zone and which is away from this then becomes the residential zone. Commercial zones are like shopping and marketing areas where business activities take place and industrial zones are the areas where large industries and companies are located and heavy machinery is being used which create noise.

The government did some surveys for this noise (what we call as noise warping) and then came up with certain figures which are mentioned on the MPCB (Maharashtra Pollution Control Board) website. It is mentioned that the noise level should be 50db during the daytime (9 am - 6 pm) in a silence zone, which is the maximum noise level and 45db for the night. The noise limits in a residential zone are 55db, commercial zone 65db and industrial zone 75db respectively. Basically, what they have done is, exactly subtract 10db from the maximum level. They have also described that this should be in LEQ measurement (LEQ is the equivalent continuous sound level in decibels equivalent to the total sound energy measured over a stated period of time and is also known as the time-average sound level), which means that a sample should be taken at a certain period which will be the average of whatever data is gathered, in that period. That could be one peak measurement, which could be very loud but if there are other soft measurement samples, then an overall average is to be taken. I guess this is where the perception of this law starts falling apart because most of the time, we have seen that when officials check the readings, it is not taken as per the LEQ method. They just come and keep a meter near the sound system and take the reading, they don’t even know that while taking readings there is weighted measurement and we call it A-weighted, C-weighted and flat. If I change these filters (C & Flat) then the spectrum of the noise picks up changes.

For instance, if I have to give an analogy of colors and if there are seven colors, when I measure it in flat filter, then I will measure all seven colors but if I am measuring in “A” then I might measure only four colors. This entire breakdown is not being explained to the authorities who are coming to measure the sound levels. The authorities just come with a meter, without even knowing whether the meter is in flat or “A” mode and most of the time these meters don’t have any filters. Coming back to your original question, this is how they have described the samples and it is high time that this whole thing needs to be revisited and reexamined.

Sushma Gaikwad: So we are looking at a situation where there is a law, but the regulatory body that is meant to implement the law is not well versed with the technicalities for the law to be implemented. Now let’s talk about the decibels because quite a few here in the audience are agencies and people who actually go out there and work with those decibels.

Pramod Chandorkar: I would also like to add a point to what Milind has said, I heard that the cops have been trained but how well it is being implemented is the question. When we say regulatory body, I was surprised to see that on the websites of Pollution control boards where they have so many reports, which they have verified and validated with 50db as actual ambient noise. However, the primary issue is that the ambient noise in our country is very high from what is mentioned in the law.

Another concern is that this law in India is straight a copy-paste job of laws in western countries because they have these residential, commercial or industrial specific areas. How many of us in India have experienced an exclusively residential zone? We don’t have it. Secondly, who are the agencies who measure these sound levels for the government? Here I want to make a simple point that if you are talking about the audio industry, there should be some audio industry representation in the regulatory body who can confirm that XYZ measurement is acceptable to the industry and this is the ambient noise. Also, if this is a copy-paste job, then internationally also there is a provision wherein the sound levels can vary by 5 to 6db above the ambient noise at times. The authorities or bodies who are in charge of noise levels here should understand these things. Again, coming back to understanding decibel levels, people who are not from the audio industry do not know that in order to express levels of sound meaningfully in numbers that are more manageable, a logarithmic scale is used, rather than a linear one. A 6db increase can double the sound level. If the sound is at 50db and I turn it up to 56db that means it’s two times louder. It’s not as if we do not want to abide by the law, but the implementation of the law has to be regularized and I think something needs to be done here urgently.

Mohomed Morani: We on behalf of the entertainment industry definitely are here to talk about the entire law and to discuss the pros and cons and how we can come to a solution.

Music is an expression, so any form of celebration whether it’s an event or party or any religious or cultural occasion requires music because it’s an integral part of any celebration. We are in the entertainment industry, it’s a professional industry and we understand that noise levels must be controlled and measured but this law goes back to more than 20 years.

We are not here to contradict the law, rather we are here to get a solution. We are here to say what the entertainment industry feels about the law and how we can come up with a solution and this session I think is a step in the right direction. There is a difference between noise and music, which people need to understand here. Anything playing out of any speaker is capable of becoming noise, but when controlled by the sound engineer it is music to the ears.

Like right now, in this very space we have controlled sound. The sound engineer sitting here can control my sound so that it doesn’t go outside the room and this is what the professional organized event industry is all about. However, there is an unorganized event sector in India which almost 70%. These are the people putting up loudspeakers and DJ consoles on the road for every big or small occasion. It is here that things go out of control because all they know is to operate the volume knob, and then suddenly someone complains that the music is loud and the police just come in. A solution can be found if there is a proper system in place and if the unorganized sector can get organized, 

Sushma Gaikwad: Now according to you three, let’s begin with Pramod, what is missing in the law?

Pramod Chandorkar: After reading the law, I felt that technically, the law should mention the exact timeframe that will be considered. When they say LEQ A, the average has to be calculated, but it also should be mentioned in how much timeframe it has to be calculated or then things could be taken for granted as it is being done now. For instance, I can say average LEQ of fifteen minutes, and he would say twenty minutes and someone else would say one-hour average or the cops could say we will take a 5-minute average; it does not work like this.

Internationally, whenever we go on a tour, they have (especially in an auditorium) noise measurement installed there as per their law. The auditorium is responsible for ensuring that I do not blast the music or sound beyond the noise levels because then anyone from the audience can sue the auditorium for this; that’s how the law is working over there. When we are talking about music, which is an integral part of entertainment in our country, you can’t just put a blanket ban and say don’t play music as this country has so much of music.

Either we have venues like the one I mentioned earlier, or we can create a body within the industry and ourselves regulate and measure the sound in auditoriums or event venues, create a chart on what was the average of last three hours and then submit it to the government to show we have not broken the law. We ourselves want to follow the law and trust me with 100db or 95 dB you can do very good shows.

Another point I would like to talk about is, that in the past 19 years technologically our country has upgraded immensely in terms of quality of sound. Now we have very advanced systems, which are at par with systems used in other parts of the world, and I don’t feel shy to say that we have some of the best sound engineers in the world. Trust me, if you have a good sound system, calibrated system by a system engineer, then you really don’t need to pump up the volume. It’s human psychology that “Awaaz thik se nhi aa raha hai toh badha do”. But there are many reasons behind this, one of them is that might be the system was not calibrated properly, the system may not be put in the right way; if all these things are taken care of then there is no need to increase the volume.

Mohomed Morani: I am also in the industry from 35 to 36 years. I have traveled the world with the best international shows, Pramod has traveled with me a lot as a sound engineer and we have worked in the world’s best venues. When Pramod goes and does the sound setting then the guys say, “Oh! In two hours, you are done with the entire soundcheck that is unbelievable”. Our people are really talented, and they know exactly how to control the sound. In western countries, everything is already in place and the engineers don’t have to do much, whereas our engineers are proficient enough to make the sound beautiful and better because they do not get an auditorium where everything is controlled. We have a venue called the Dome and when I took over the Dome from the previous management, the sound was very bad. It was not music to my ears at all; it was just sound. Milind who we have on the panel today was brought on board to work on the venue acoustics. There was a lot of money spent on the venue so that people could hear music and not just sound. That is the difference when professionals come in. There are professional people and we have enough of them in our industry and we have the unorganized set, but everybody works for a living. Everybody should come on one platform and we should unite to discuss each other’s problems whether you are playing music on the road or in the mandap or in a Ganpati procession or in Holi. We can then go to the government authorities and put forward our suggestions.

Milind Raorane: I am in agreement with what Pramod said. To extend that further, I would like to include some points from the actual application end. Political gatherings and speeches are given clearances, that if they follow a certain level then they can conduct a certain event. They get special permissions and exemptions. Why can’t we put forward to the regulatory body that we will form our own body, which basically will generate pre-documents/submissions of what the sound at a certain level in the venue is going to be. For this, nowadays, there is a software available called NoizCalc developed by a very renowned loudspeaker company called d&b audiotechnik from Germany along with another company called soundPLAN, which is very instrumental in Europe in doing stimulations for noise mapping. Together they have developed this app called NoizCalc. Now with NoizCalc you can take that entire stimulation and drop it at google pin and add it to your location. It takes the google pin of the location, it could be any place in India. It basically takes that location and overlays it together to give you a plot of what is the SPL distribution now and what will be there in that zone. If there are certain buildings or hospitals in that zone, you will actually get a 3D sound map of that situation.

Maybe if we can make this kind of document, and present it to the authorities as a preclearance document, I think that would be really good. It could work like a commitment from the event organizers and vendors which says “Ok this is the map, it looks safe and we are going to follow this”. The monitoring system, will then measure the entire event in real-time and again submit a report. Officials will then have a pre and post report to compare and if there is a violation at some point in time, then any punishment or fine can be fixed. However, killing the entire industry with a blanket ban is not right.

Pramod Chandorkar: When there is a limit of 50 or 55db in silence zones, then the law has to be implemented on everything. We all know about the traffic noise here and we know up to what SPL levels honking goes to. Now if honking is banned then is it implemented? No, it’s not. So, there should not be a blanket ban, especially on music just because it’s easy to do that. Therefore, we should have some kind of formal representation to take this forward to the government. We are here for the law but then there has to be a system, which is also practical.

This is a very important matter, which needs to be considered seriously. In all these years of the PALM expo, we have witnessed a phenomenal growth of the industry and the amount of money that is being invested in this industry. The amount of transactions that happen in just these three days of PALM is humongous. This industry is contributing to the economy, entertainment has the biggest share in the state’s economy, and it cannot function like this with outdated laws. There has to be some practical solution.

Sushma Gaikwad: Totally agree. The other aspect, which needs to be really focused, is implementing the law and regulating it. Now I am going to be talking about something, which is completely not related, yet it is.

This is a little story before we move into our suggestions. There is one gentleman who hacked one of our international leader’s social media. Then he was invited by a social media giant to actually share best practices on how he had done this and he was immediately offered a job He is a young Indian boy who is an ethical hacker and I had the good fortune of meeting him. I asked him how he managed to hack this social media page. Did he really learn this in college? That’s when he told me that these things we don’t learn in the classroom because the curriculum is ten years old. What then comes up to me is that what we are actually implementing is 20 years old. I think it’s time to revisit and it is crucial because the economy depends on it, several people’s livelihood and the industry depends on it. I think the implementation of the law is something that needs to be evaluated before a law is enforced, and that’s my personal point of view.

Now let’s come to the critical part of today’s evening. What are the solutions? Let’s begin with Mohomed.

Mohomed Morani: We can actually make a request, as India is a multicultural country, so many festivals like Ganpati, Holi, Navratri, etc. are celebrated in India. I think there should be some leniency in terms of extending the timings for those particular dates and they can be a little lenient on the decibels on those particular dates. It would help the industry.

Technology has really evolved in the last 19 years but we haven’t changed the law and we are still implementing the same laws. Today we have 1:00 AM shows in the movie theatres and we are enjoying these movies in surround sound and Dolby digital. There are multiple screens in one multiplex but the sound does not spill over from one to the other and that’s how advanced technology is today.

In the Live sound segment, we have speakers whose sound can be targeted to specific areas only and this is how the professional live events industry has graduated.

Sushma Gaikwad: Skilling up is a very essential part of everything. Now Pramod you are in the skilling sector for sound. Could you please give us few solutions on how one can actually skill up so that everyone understands the difference between entertainment on the road (which is something we should be proud of as we are Indians) and entertainment in the concerts.

Pramod Chandorkar: It’s not that street entertainment or performance takes place only in India. People in Europe also perform on the road; they also put up the PA on the road. The only difference is that, though technology and the industry have grown exponentially, unfortunately, education about this has not followed. I also feel that the manufacturers of these equipment should also put in effort into educating their clients. Second, as a community, we should come together and I am willing to take this step, where we can create some short courses for all the people in audio, whether they are professionals, educated or not. I have always believed that sound design is an art and you don’t have to do 12th, MSC, or doctorate to pursue it. Even a guy who cannot speak English can be an awesome mixing engineer.

Humare desh mein ek bahut bada problem hai – and that is the language but it’s not compulsory that some guy sitting here from Buldhana speaks in English. He might be a very good engineer but might not be very comfortable speaking in English and then he will shy away from this discussion. What we should do is conduct classes in different languages. I’m willing to conduct a course in Marathi which will be a basic course or maybe a free course which can educate them on how to use sound systems properly in a public area or on the street. Once they are educated, we can create some kind of licensing from the institute and the government. The permit or license should mandate that he submits reports before and after any event and he can be penalized if reports are not submitted.

By doing this we want to impress upon the government and the court that we not only want to follow the laws but as an industry and community, we are also trying to educate our people. I also feel that every manufacturer who is doing business and making money out of it should put in money (as a corporate or social responsibility) to contribute in funding these courses so that our whole community can learn. Learning acquired is never wasted. These days he only knows that I have invested 5lakhs and the cops came, broke my speakers, and arrested me. It hurts because he has to repay loans. But when he is knowledgeable enough to know what is going wrong and how can he correct to ensure that his investment is safe, then he will also be happy and do better business.

Sushma Gaikwad: Absolutely correct and well said. Milind, your suggestions please.

Milind Raorane: There was a solution, which I have already mentioned earlier. We should bring a process of pre-commitments and post submissions, where organizers pre-commit what they are going to follow and then post the event, submit another report on what was actually followed. This kind of system can be introduced to the regulatory body. The second one, I would take a leaf out of Pramod’s books about the skill set. A sound operator license should be introduced which can be acquired probably by giving an exam on electrical proficiency.  If I have even a simple pooja in my building where I have to bring two tops and subs, I have to take permission from a local police station. How they can give permissions is by ensuring that the sound operators bringing those two boxes need to have a sound operator license. Now what exactly is the license and how do you get that by giving an electrical exam, that is where the flaws lie and that is where the loophole comes in. Now the third point is from the angle of whatever effort is already underway in the court or with the government. The policies were enforced based on sound samples taken around 1999-2000. I think now is the time for the industry to come together and form a team that will take samples again from our side to check if prescribed ambient levels are really reverent or not in the current scenario. If you go to MPCB they can give you the actual mapping of the areas which are silence zones or residential zones. There has to be a second attempt of re-measurement and remapping from our end, not from the government. We have to create this data and use this data to submit and show the government that this is what is right now and this is what you guys have told us.

Pramod Chandorkar: I have a question for Mohomed. When we say that we have these sound issues with the authorities, generally we talk about the outdoor events. How many times have you faced these issues?

Mohomed Morani: Several times. In Mumbai because of the traffic, people can’t come early and by the time they reach the venue, it’s already 8’o clock. Starting a show is a nightmare here. 70-80 percent of the time I can say that the show has to be stopped and the TV shows, which are shot at outdoor spaces, have to be done on monitors and yes because we are shooting it for television we have no choice but to go on without sound. At that time the sound is only on the stage and even the audience has no clue what is happening.

Sushma Gaikwad: The control is actually messing up the Industry because the control is not a planned control. It’s not a logical and evolved control. I think the critical part right now is for us to plan things in a way that enhances the opportunity for interaction and for live entertainment, as it is very critical for the economy as well.

Pramod Chandorkar: I would like to add something here. I feel that the most important thing is to open up a communication channel with the government. Right now everybody is being seen with the same lens. “Yeh Dolby sound waale hai”, is the tag given to us. This tag itself is wrong because if the guy is a DJ, there is no connection with Dolby. The government needs to know that there is an organized sector comprising of responsible people and once they come to know I am sure they will listen. We need to open a communication channel with the government and also if need be to involve people like Smriti Irani as a representative of the fraternity.

Sushma Gaikwad: I think we are coming together on the idea that we need to influence the government with the right information. We need the industry to come together as a whole. It cannot be achieved with two-three individual players standing.

Mohomed Morani: I think EEMA should take the initiative.

Sushma Gaikwad: Whether it’s the event industry or the audio industry, we need to stand together on behalf of the industry. We also need to get the unprofessional industry skilled up and become a part of the professional industry. Now I have one last question. What can we all do to unify our voice? What can we do to influence a shift in policy?

Mohomed Morani: I think we have initiated that influence today. We should also make an effort to form a committee with people like Milind and Pramod who are ready to give their time and efforts and take things forward immediately.

Milind Raorane: I have only one thing to say. The most important thing to do is to create a database submission of what is the current reality and set new targets. First, I think I would categorize performance areas, which include grounds, arenas, stadiums so that we can classify venues into two types - secured and unsecured arenas. Unsecured could be performances on loudspeakers, on road or processions, etc. After classification, get the secured venues clear for SPL’s with real-time data or relevant data. All studies should be done again very meticulously, submit all those numbers and get the clearance. Then we can work on the unsecured areas, which are completely open areas and find ways out. I also think that it won’t be possible to take clearance for everyone at the same time. However, we can do it in phases.

Pramod Chandorkar: Just adding to what Milind said, and what Mohomad Ji mentioned, we first need to create a body, which should be recognized so that the government listens to us. Once we have done that, then we can ask them to implement licenses. This could be the first phase. We should also create a system where we will educate all these small, unorganized audio guys so that they earn the license first. Once we have this organization, then there will be some value to the data we collect, which Milind mentioned earlier and which we wish to submit to the government. Once we convince the government that we are there to help them to put this in a better way then they will also move two steps ahead. Positivity gets results and negativity will take us nowhere. If you see the copyright law, which was recently amended by consulting the industry, it has made all the industry musicians very happy. A lot of effort was taken to reach the government and inform them about issues faced by the industry and the government did pay heed. That’s a good example for us to follow.

Sushma Gaikwad: So being proactive is what we are looking for. My next question is Noise pollution control in the avatar it is today (like random measurements being taken), what according to you is the biggest impact it is having on the entertainment industry.

Mohomed Morani: Definitely, the entertainment industry has a big impact on the economy. If we have a practical policy in place, then the economy will improve and the sound pollution issues will be rationalized.

Sushma Gaikwad: When the intention is there, everything is possible. It’s about getting together, putting together the plan, making the representation, and following it through. I think that is the key.


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