Published:  12:36 AM, 11 October 2017

The noise issue in Dhaka

A new survey of the Department of Environment (DoE) says that noise pollution has become severe in Dhaka. It always crosses the permissible level, causing a risk to public health. The survey was conducted at 70 points of the city. The report shows that noise pollution has reached its highest limit, which is 120-130 decibels. It is almost double than the permissible level. The highest noise level was recorded at Farmgate, which was 130.2 decibels during daytime and the lowest 65.7 decibels at night. The lowest sound level was at Road 18 in Uttara-14, which is 99.6 decibels during daytime and 43.7 decibels at night.

Under the Noise Pollution (Control) Rules 2006, the permissible and tolerable sound limit for Bangladesh is 50 decibels during daytime and 40 decibels at night in silent areas. In the residential areas, the limit is from 50 decibels to 45 decibels. In mixed areas --- residential, commercial and industrial --- it is from 60 decibels to 50 decibels, 70 decibels to 60 decibels for the night in commercial areas and 75 to 70 decibels in industrial areas.

Sound pollution is noise that has a harmful effect on human and animal life. Sound pollution has adverse effect on both body and mind. It can result in high blood pressure, headache, dyspepsia, ulcer and sleeplessness. Machines and transports, motor vehicles' engines and construction works mainly cause sound pollution. The World Health Organization says that 60 decibel sound is enough to cause temporary deafness and 100 decibel sound will cause deafness permanently. The recent DoE report has recorded 120 decibels in Dhaka. We can easily guess at what kind of risk we are living in Dhaka.

The government and the health ministry need to address sound pollution properly and find ways of solving it permanently. It is high time to take the issue seriously. Recently the High Court, responding to a writ petition, banned hydraulic horns in transports and private vehicles. But only banning is not enough, proper monitoring and implementation are essential. City dwellers do not see any difference before and after the ban. Drivers use horns unnecessarily and impatiently, which contributes to the sound pollution.

This should be controlled. Unfit and expired vehicles are to be banned as soon as possible. Sound should also be controlled at the construction sites to ensure a comfortable environment for commuters. If the problem is not properly addressed even after the recent DoE report, it will be impossible in the near future to ensure people's physical and mental fitness.

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