Tuesday 24, May 2022
BN

Govt inaction behind city noise pollution

The lack of coordinated actions by the government agencies concerned to mitigate noise pollution ranks Dhaka as the world’s number one city of noise pollution, according to a recent report of the United Nations Environment Programme.

Experts viewed that the government agencies should make concerted efforts to curb noise pollution in the capital. They also blamed lack of popular awareness of the city’s noise pollution which has been seriously affecting people’s heart, brain and hearing capacity.

According to Professor Pran Gopal Datta, former vice-chancellor of Bangabandu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, noise pollution mainly causes damage especially to the hearing capacity. The sudden noise pollution may cause palpitation and lead to hypertension, blood pressure and even heart diseases, he added.

‘Due to noise pollution, people get fatigued and lose their efficiency. They also cannot concentrate on their work,’ said Pran Gopal, who is a top-ranking ENT specialist in the country. Noise pollution badly affects the brain too, he further said.

According to Professor Ahmad Kamruzzaman Majumder, the science faculty dean at Stamford University Bangladesh and the founding chair of the Centre for Atmospheric Pollution Studies, the main five sources of noise pollution are vehicles, construction sites, industry and factories, social, religious and political programmes and households.

‘The maximum noise pollution comes from hydraulic horns of vehicles. If the Department of Environment coordinates with the Dhaka Metropolitan Police traffic department to implement the laws and rules against noise pollution, this menace in Dhaka will come down to a tolerable level,’ said Kamruzzaman.

He said that the environment department should be in coordination with the city traffic authority to check the vehicular sound pollution.

‘Many construction sites generate severe sounds while using tiles and other materials. Religious, social, political and cultural programmes also produce noise pollution by way of using microphones on roads and at open places,’ he pointed out.

Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon general secretary Sharif Jamil said that lack of awareness, growing urbanisation, DoE inefficiency were also responsible for the situation. He asked as to how hydraulic horns were available on the market as its import remained banned.

‘The Department of Environment does not have the capacity to implement the relevant laws and rules. Many designated silent areas, including the secretariat and parliament premises, also face acute noise pollution due to lack of enforcement of the laws and rules,’ he said.

The latest UNEP report found the average noise level in Dhaka 119 decibels, the highest in the world in 2021, followed by Moradabad in India with 114 dB and Islamabad in Pakistan 105 dB. According to the 1999 WHO guidelines for community noise level, the recommended limits are 55 dB LAeq for residential areas and 70 dB LAeq for traffic and commercial areas.

The latest 2018 WHO guidelines have established a health-protective recommendation for road-traffic noise level of 53 dB based on the Lden indicator, an average noise level, considering the level during the day, in the evening and during the night, which differs from the LAeq indicator, according to the report.

The Noise Pollution (Control) Rules 2006 were adopted in Bangladesh under Section 20 of the Environment Conservation Act 1995 with a view to lay down specific guidelines on noise pollution and the degree of allowable noise in various areas. ‘The sound pollution in Dhaka is increasing also due to the lack of people’s awareness. Many drivers use horns even after being stuck in traffic congestions,’ he added.

Asked about what steps the department is taking against the availability of hydraulic horns on the market and at other places, he said, ‘As it is linked to vehicles, the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority is mainly responsible for the monitoring of the matter. We too also conduct drives against such horns, but our efforts are too meagre.’

BRTA director for enforcement Mohammad Khurshid Alam said that they were operating mobile courts against hydraulic horns. Asked if there exists any coordination with the Department of Environment in this regard, he said, ‘I do not see any coordination from that department in this regard.’

Dhaka Metropolitan Police additional commissioner for traffic Md Munibur Rahman said that they seized hydraulic horns and fined users when found. He noted that as the DMP had shortage of executive magistrates it was not able to conduct mobile courts frequently enough.

‘If the Department of Environment helps by providing us with magistrates, it would be easier for us to conduct drives against sound polluters. We also do not have equipment for measuring sounds. We have apprised the home ministry of our lack of the tool,’ he added.

He also said that their work in curbing sound pollution would be easier if the DoE extended support to them.

SK

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