I am a US Qualified Registered Microbiologist-Medical Technologist, operating my own Clinical Lab. I have been an activist advocating consumer, civic, citizen's rights for Thirty plus years & a Frequent contributor to the letters to Editor.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Late-night honks leave man trainspotting

Late-night honks leave man trainspotting

Late-night honks leave man trainspotting
It's like a prolonged April Fool's joke. For the record, it all began - or was alleged to have - on April 1. An ear-splitting horn rent the air, waking 64-year-old M B Nataraj and his wife from their slumber. 

Squinting at the clock by his bedside, the sexagenarian saw that it was just after 3am. 
He took a few seconds to compose himself before realising the sound was that of a metro train passing by, honks blaring, emanating from the Mahalakshmi Layout metro station about half a kilometre away. 
According to Nataraj, a recently retired microbiologist and medical technologist, the honks that occur in quick succession in a span of 10-15 seconds are repeated after 20-minute intervals; and this has reportedly been the situation for the last eight nights, disturbing the sleep and peace of this local.
Funnily enough, his neighbours vacillate between 'we do not get disturbed' to a public service announcement-esque retort claiming to 'bear with inconvenience for a better tomorrow'. 
Bangalore Mirror's photographer too was posted just outside the station from 2.45 am till 4.20 am on Wednesday to record the event; but strangely, the footage captured does not show even a train passing, while Nataraj has a recording of the train honking during the same period, first, at 2.48 am, and then again around 3.30 am! 
Eerie as it sounds, BMRCL officials themselves admit that the honking does take place as part of their trial runs. Mahalakshmi Layout metro security supervisor Ram Yadav, 28, told Mirror, "Everything that takes place here is according to BMRCL procedure. There are trial runs being conducted from Nagasandra, Dasarahalli and Jalahalli stations at night, and this includes the honking. We do not question anything as our job is to ensure the tests go smoothly." 
However, despite Nataraj being tech-savvy enough to shoot his very own 'Blare' Witch Project on a smartphone and dashing off a plaint with proof to authorities, including the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) and the Bengaluru traffic police, there seems to have been no response. 

"It sounds like giant buffaloes mating in the middle of the night! I have had surgeries on both my ears, and the incessant honking is driving me crazy. It's not just me - my wife too is going deaf from the noise. I completely understand that these are trial runs that are necessary before these stations are thrown open for public use, but what on earth is the need to honk so much?" asked the frustrated senior citizen. 
The honking at 3am, coupled with what goes on from 6am to 10pm on a daily basis, has pushed the sexagenarian over the edge. He has even downloaded an application on his smartphone and managed to record the decibel level of the horn standing in his second-floor home. The result is an eyebrow-raising 110 decibels. 
"If this is the outcome on a mobile app, imagine the accuracy of a sound level meter when the honking is recorded 50 feet from the source, as it should be. I have questioned officials at the Mahalakshmi Layout metro station before about the need to honk so much, but they have been rude and never proffered an explanation," he added.
Keshav, 21, a student who lives a few houses away from Nataraj, affirmed that he too had heard the honking. "I have heard the honking and other construction noises coming from the metro in the wee hours, but I have not been too disturbed by it. Since our rooms are located in the interior of the house, and we do not have many windows facing the direction of the metro station, we are not very bothered by the noise," he said.
On the other hand, Kamala, 72, who stays in a house right next to the metro station, claimed she had not heard any honking sounds by the train in the dead of night. She, along with a few other neighbours of Nataraj that BM spoke to, was of the opinion that the metro was more beneficial than harmful; and that the residents did not mind being temporarily troubled considering the metro would help thousands in the long run. Earlier, residents alongside the Metro tracks on CMH Road also complained about Metro Rail honking.

BMRCL's response
When contacted, BMRCL's public relations officer, Vasant Rao, said, "There is regular maintenance work going on the tracks at Mahalakshmi Layout and the surrounding stations. A rail-grinding machine which cannot be used during the daytime is brought in at night, and whenever it approaches a station, there are intermediate horns sounded to caution the housekeeping staff and others working on the platforms and in other parts of the station. Since the fact that this is disturbing some residents has been brought to our notice, the necessary personnel will be instructed to reduce the intensity of the honking."