Government inaction behind city noise pollution

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

Experts said government agencies should make concerted efforts to reduce noise pollution in the capital.

They also blamed the lack of popular awareness of the city’s noise pollution, which has seriously affected people’s hearts, brains and hearing abilities.

According to Professor Pran Gopal Datta, former Vice Chancellor of Bangabandu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, noise pollution mainly causes damage, especially to hearing ability.

Sudden noise pollution can cause palpitations and lead to hypertension, blood pressure and even heart disease, he added.

“Because of noise pollution, people get tired and lose their efficiency. They also cannot concentrate on their work,” said Pran Gopal, who is a leading ENT specialist in the country.

Noise pollution also seriously affects the brain, he added.

According to Professor Ahmad Kamruzzaman Majumder, Dean of the Faculty of Science at Stamford University in Bangladesh and Founding Chairman of the Center for Air Pollution Studies, the top five sources of noise pollution are vehicles, construction sites, industry and factories, social, religious and political programs. and households.

“The maximum noise pollution comes from the hydraulic horns of vehicles. If the Ministry of Environment coordinates with the Dhaka Metropolitan Police Traffic Department to implement the laws and rules against noise pollution, this threat in Dhaka will return to a tolerable level,” Kamruzzaman said.

He said the environment department should coordinate with the city’s traffic authority to check for noise pollution from vehicles.

“Many construction sites generate low-pitched sounds when using tiles and other materials. Religious, social, political and cultural programs also produce noise pollution through the use of microphones on roads and in open places,” he pointed out.

Bangladesh Secretary General Poribesh Andolon Sharif Jamil said lack of awareness, growing urbanization and ineffective DoE were also responsible for the situation.

He asked how hydraulic horns were available on the market as their import remained prohibited.

“The Ministry of Environment lacks the capacity to implement relevant laws and rules. Many designated quiet areas, including the secretariat and parliament premises, also face acute noise pollution due to lack of enforcement of laws and rules,” he said.

The latest UNEP report found that the average noise level in Dhaka was 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 established a health protection recommendation for road traffic noise level of 53 dB based on the Lden indicator, an average noise level, considering the level during the day, evening and night, which differs from the LAeq indicator, according to the report.

The Noise Pollution (Control) Rules 2006 were enacted in Bangladesh under Section 20 of the Environmental Conservation Act 1995 to establish specific guidelines on noise pollution and the degree noise allowed in various areas.

DoE Director of Monitoring and Enforcement Masud Hasan Patowary said the department is conducting campaigns and circuit courts against factories and industries responsible for generating noise pollution.

“Noise pollution in Dhaka is also increasing due to people’s lack of awareness. Many drivers honk their horns even after being stuck in traffic,” he added.

Asked about the action taken by the department against the availability of hydraulic horns in the market and elsewhere, he said, “As it relates to vehicles, the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority is primarily responsible for following up the matter. We also run campaigns against such horns, but our efforts are too meager.

BRTA Director of Enforcement Mohammad Khurshid Alam said they operate mobile courts against water horns.

When asked if there is any coordination with the Ministry of Environment in this regard, he replied, “I don’t see any coordination from this ministry in this regard.”

Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s additional commissioner for traffic, Md Munibur Rahman, said he seized hydraulic horns and issued fines to users when found.

He noted that because the DMP lacked executive magistrates, it was unable to hold mobile courts frequently enough.

“If the Ministry of the Environment helps us by providing us with magistrates, it will be easier for us to carry out campaigns against noise polluters. We also have no equipment to measure sounds. We have informed the Ministry of the Interior of our lack of tools,” he added.

He also said their work to reduce noise pollution would be easier if the DoE gave them support.

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