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Noise Pollution taking its toll in Dhaka city

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Tuesday, 13 November 2012





DHAKA, NOV 12: The index of noise pollution is moving on a steep upward curve, owing to the reluctance, under the wrapper of excuses of manpower shortage and lack of law enforcement, of the authorities. Of late, the deafening decibel level is causing damaged hearing, as well as neurological and cardiac ailments, in the capital and elsewhere in the country. Vehicles remain the worst offenders, while aircraft, trains, power generators and different factories are generating  excessive noise in every nook and corner, including residential areas.


The Department of environment (DoE), along with the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) and the police department, have been entrusted with the job of controlling noise pollution. It found the noise level up to 101 dB during daytime, against the standard level of 70 dB, in five major cities between 2008 and 2011.


Physicians say that at least 9 per cent of the entire population are suffering from damaged hearing, owing to lack of implementation of the noise pollution act. Noise pollution can increase stress and blood pressure, tachycardia, indigestion, peptic ulcer, insomnia, cardiac problems, headache, distracted concentration and frayed tempers, they warn.

Monowar Islam, director general of DoE, told The Independent that they have only one enforcement team to conduct drives against environment pollution, air pollution, noise pollution, grabbing of lands and wetlands, and to ensure functioning of ETPs in factories as well.

"We’ve no individual unit to conduct mobile courts against noise polluters. We’ve modern equipment to measure noise pollution, but our team is engaged to conducting mobile court against polluters of all categories,” the head of the country’s environment agency said.

He noted that there are provisions to slap a fine of Tk. 2 to Tk. 15 lakh against those who exceed the tolerable limit of sound. “We sent a proposal on creating awareness about noise pollution to the finance ministry, but the ministry rejected it,” he added.

A DoE survey states that different parts of the capital have showed an upward trend in noise pollution. It says the noise level is 83 dB in and around the Shaheen School area during daytime and 74 db at night; 83 dB in and around the Motijheel Government High School area during the day and 79 dB at night; 80 dB near the Dhanmondi Government Boys School during daytime and 75 db at night; 80 dB near the Azimpur Girls’ School and College during the day and 74 db at night; 75 dB around Tejgaon College during daytime and 67 db at night, 82 dB near the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University during the day and 74 db at night, 80 dB at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital during the day and 69 db at night; 76 dB at the Mitford Hospital during daytime and 73 db at night; and 72 dB at the Shishu Hospital during the day and 69 db at night.



When asked, BRTA chairman Ayubur Rahman Khan said they have banned hydraulic horns or fog horns preferred by bus and truck drivers to make their way through the traffic. “We admit that noise pollution is on the rise. We cannot conduct mobile courts as per the demand as there is a shortage of manpower,” he added.


He, however, promised that they will increase the number of mobile courts, with the help of DoE to punish violators of the Noise Pollution Act.


Abdullah Al Mahmud, joint commissioner (traffic) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), told The Independent: “It’s our duty to implement the noise pollution law, with help from DoE, against the violators.” He, however, failed to  answer why no drives had been launched against violators so far. “From now on, we’ll implement the law stringently to keep the environment free of noise pollution,” he added.


Dr Md Abdullah, an ENT professor Dhaka Medical College, said the World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that about 9 per cent of the total population of Bangladesh are suffering from hearing damages. “Noise pollution is a major cause for damaged hearing. Children are seriously affected by it. It also spells troubles for pregnant women. They might face early abortions or give birth to deformed babies,” he added.


Abdullah said the number of patients with damaged hearing is fast increasing in Bangladesh.“The decibel level in Dhaka has crossed the tolerable limit,” he added.


Honking of horn is prohibited in and around hospitals and educational institutions. The government has also prohibited honking of horns along the road  from the Shahbagh roundabout to Jahangir Gate, the entrance to the Cantonment. However, if one travels by a bus or a car along the Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue in Shahbagh during the day or night, when trucks join the traffic, one will have to suffer the constant honking of horns.


Hossain Ali, a roadside tea vendor in the Shahbagh roundabout, said the police never bother to check continuous honking by vehicles.


Omar Faruk, a minibus driver, unnecessarily honked horns at least 150 times from Mirpur-01 to the National Press Club stoppage, as counted by this correspondent on Monday. When asked, Omar replied: “I’m trying to draw the attention of the traffic police to clear the road.”


According to WHO, around 60 dB of noise can make a person temporarily deaf, while 100 dB can cause complete deafness. But the noise on a busy street in Dhaka has been estimated at 60-101 dB, with the sound of vehicles being 95 dB, loud speakers 90-100 dB, mills and factories 80-90 dB, restaurants and cinema halls 75-90 dB, festivals 85-90 dB, scooters or motorbikes 87-92 dB and trucks and buses 92-94 dB.


The desired sound measure, as per WHO, is 25 dB in bedrooms, 40 dB in dining or sitting rooms, 35-40 dB in office, 30-40 db in classrooms, 35-40 dB in the library, 20-35 dB in hospitals, 40-60 db in restaurants and 45 dB in the city at night.

Source: theindependentbd


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