Asia Noise News

Japan: Residents near Futenma base in Okinawa win ¥754 million in damages over noise

NAHA, OKINAWA PREF. – The Okinawa branch of the Naha District Court ordered the government on Thursday to pay some ¥754 million in damages to residents near the Futenma air base because of aircraft noise.

Some 2,200 plaintiffs who live close to the controversial U.S. base in Ginowan complained of mental distress, poor sleep and disruption to their daily lives.

In seeking about ¥1 billion in damages from the central government, they also said they feared aircraft crashes, according to lawyers representing the plaintiffs and their lawsuit.

“The noise damage suffered by the plaintiffs is serious and widespread,” presiding Judge Satoshi Hikage said in the ruling, adding that the court found that the damage reached an unacceptable level.

The judge acknowledged that the base serves the interest of the people in the country, and that it can only be served with the sacrifice of a minority of people. But he said that does not mean they should accept the damage. The use of the air base by the U.S. military therefore “violates the rights of the plaintiffs.”

The ruling comes as Japan and the United States are seeking to move Futenma to a less densely populated area further north on Okinawa Island and return the land at Ginowan to Japanese control. Local opposition is running high, however, and many people in Okinawa want the base moved outside the prefecture altogether.

“I’m relieved that damages were awarded,” said Sogi Ganaha, a plaintiff in the suit who lives about 300 meters from the base. “Whenever I hear the roaring of a helicopter circling above my head, I remember the war 70 years ago. I’ve wanted to get compensated for my daily suffering.”

Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga, an opponent of the plan to relocate Futenma within the prefecture, hailed the ruling as “meaningful.”

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga argued the government had failed to fully explain its arguments to the court.

“We will adequately deal with this after coordination among the ministries and agencies concerned,” he said at a news conference.

The suit follows a similar one filed by local residents in October 2002. In that case, the Fukuoka High Court ordered the government in July 2010 to pay about ¥369 million in damages to the plaintiffs. But it rejected their plea to suspend early morning and evening flights.

The latest suit was filed in 2012 by individuals who were not plaintiffs in the earlier case.

During the trial, the government sought an exemption and to reduce the sum of compensation, arguing that some of the plaintiffs had moved to the area knowing that an air base existed there, and that the government had taken measures to reduce noise, such as funding noise abatement work on homes.

The plaintiffs’ damages were reduced as the court recognized that the government’s noise abatement measures had been effective, to some extent.

The court also dismissed the claims of around 80 plaintiffs who lived in areas where the noise level is below 75 on the Weighted Equivalent Continuous Perceived Noise Level, or WECPNL, an internationally recognized index for aircraft noise.

The decision was in line with the 2010 Fukuoka High Court ruling, in which the WECPNL of 75 or above formed the benchmark for ordering government compensation.

The court did not acknowledge the suffering the plaintiffs said was caused by low-frequency sounds from helicopters, citing a lack of evidence.

Asia Noise News

Less noise pollution in Bangkok with new Electric buses ?!


BANGKOK: — Electric buses are undergoing trials in the capital this month, with the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) offering free rides on three routes.

If approved by the Cabinet, the BMTA will buy 400 to 500 of the lithium-battery-powered vehicles from China and put them into service next year.

BMTA caretaker director Pranee Sugrasorn says the electric buses are more environment-friendly than their petrol- and natural-gas-powered (NGV) counterparts. “The air in Bangkok will improve and that should boost residents’ health,” she says.

At Bt15 million per unit, the price of electric buses is more than three times that of their gas-powered equivalents, which cost Bt4.5 million. However, the battery-powered option is cheaper in the long run.

Over its 20-year lifetime, the fuel, maintenance and running costs of an NGV bus amount to an estimated Bt34 million, compared to Bt30 million for its electric counterpart.

In total, the city’s public-bus operator will acquire more than 3,000 new vehicles to replace its ageing fleet. Some will be NGV buses, under a purchase plan that is already at the bidding stage. But more than 2,600 are likely to be electric, since Transport Minister Prajin Juntong has encouraged the BMTA and other state public-transport operators to gradually switch from diesel and gas to electricity. Prajin says the switch would soften the impact of fluctuations in fuel prices and make vehicles more environmentally friendly.

An electric bus is pollution-free

and easy on the ears because it has no internal-combustion engine. It is powered by rechargeable batteries, so there are no emissions. The more than 3,000 public buses that currently ply Bangkok streets consume some 120 million litres of diesel per year and pump out huge quantities of carbon dioxide and other pollutants. Many of the capital’s buses have been in use for two decades or more and their ageing engines are constantly adding to the air and noise pollution.

Electric vehicles are increasingly popular as fossil fuels dwindle. About 90 cities around the world have opted for electric buses as a cleaner and quieter choice for their mass-transit systems. Bangkok is making the right choice in adopting the technology.

But it is also important that we develop our own alternative-energy mass transit so that we don’t have to rely on imports. Thailand must build on its long history of assembling diesel-engine buses for domestic use.

Suranaree University of Technology and the Provincial Electricity Authority have taken the lead by developing an electric bus with zero emissions. Their prototype, powered by a lithium-ion battery, has the potential to be produced on a commercial scale. And while fuel-cell technology is still relatively expensive, it will become cheaper in the near future.

The government must now push for the use of electric buses as a major mode of transport in all our big cities. That option will not only be lighter on the public purse, it also will carry less impact for the environment and for our health.


Asia Noise News

India: IIT Gandhinagar developing low-cost noise reducing devices for autistic kids (affordable headphones that act as noise-cancelling devices and low-cost sensors)

India: IIT Gandhinagar developing low-cost noise reducing devices for autistic kids (affordable headphones that act as noise-cancelling devices and low-cost sensors)

Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology-Gandhinagar (IIT-Gn) are developing low-cost devices for autistic children in India.

This includes affordable headphones that act as noise-cancelling devices and low-cost sensors — part of a larger system being designed to educate, train and rehabilitate children with complex neurodevelopment disorders.

“Children with autism or auditory processing disorder often have a hard time with noise. Background noise like that of a fan or a toilet flush or a vacuum cleaner can increase the anxiety level in the child. It is for this that these headphones or earmuffs come in handy.

“In the recent past, there have been instances in other countries where headphones have been used to help such children. These headphones are very expensive and the costs can vary between Rs 4,000 and Rs 25,000,” said Nithin V George, assistant professor, Electrical Engineering, IIT-Gn who is working on developing a low-cost device for children who battle disorders characterised by social impairments, communication difficulties and restricted, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behaviour.

“The device is currently at a design stage.It is a little premature to put a price tag, but It should cost around Rs 1,000. The headphones will be such that a child can wear it all day without discomfort,” George told The Indian Express on the sidelines of an event held on autism at the Knowledge Consortium of Gujarat (KCG) campus here recently. Currently IIT-Gn is conducting a feasibility study along with BM Institute of Mental Health in Ahmedabad to assess the workability of such a device among autistic children. It is also receiving funding from the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India.

“No studies have been done on this in the past, so we are conducting a feasibility study as well,” the professor added. Meanwhile, another set of researchers from the same department at IIT-Gn are engaged in developing a special system for autistic children who have difficulty interpreting what others think or feel, as they do not understand social cues, such as tone of voice or facial expressions. “We are developing a virtual reality-based anxiety sensitive adaptive intelligent system for autistic children. The purpose is to address the gap in their social skills,” said Uttama Lahiri, assistant professor of IIT-Gn who is heading a team of researchers who are busy creating real-world-simulations using computer graphics. “We are trying to use technology so that will make educating, training and rehabilitating autistic children much more simple. With these virtual simulation models, we will help these children enhance their motor-skills, understand social etiquette, face unexpected situations and make friends,” said Lahiri. Meanwhile, this team is also developing low-cost sensors that is part of the intelligent system used to help autistic children. “These sensors also have a wider application,” she added. –


Asia Noise News

New noise barriers for Mumbai in Sion, Matunga and Parel

New noise barriers for Mumbai in Sion, Matunga and Parel

The MMRDA is erecting noise barriers on three flyovers along the Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar road at the cost of nearly Rs 19 crore; pilot project in BKC had already proved successful in 2010

Residents living along the busy Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar road and patients in Sion Hospital are set to get some much-needed respite from the incessant honking and engine noise that have been making their lives miserable.

The MMRDA has begun installing noise barriers on the Sion Hospital, King’s Circle- Tulpule Chowk and Hindmata flyovers at a cost of Rs 18.9 crore.

Speaking to mid-day, MMRDA Joint Project Director Dilip Kawatkar said, “The installation of noise barriers on flyovers on the arterial Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar road will help bring down the vehicular noise levels and benefit the residents living in buildings close to the road.

The installation work has already begun on the flyover opposite Sion Hospital and it is expected to be completed on all three flyovers in six months.”
Successful pilot

In 2011, a team of experts from MMRDA, including then MMRDA Commissioner Rahul Asthana had gone for a tour to Italy, where it studied the noise barrier projects. MMRDA later said it would be installing noise barriers on all the flyovers and road over bridges that it constructs in the future.

Before the officials left on the trip, the authority had already begun a pilot project in BKC in 2010. Before the noise barriers were installed along the road near Kalanagar in BKC, the decibel level was between 60 and 90, which has come down to 50-55 during the day and well below 45 in the night.

Mumbai: MMRDA to erect noise barriers in Sion, Matunga and Parel – See more at:Source