a year ago

Visual pollution

File photo used for representational image
File photo used for representational image

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That visual pollution adversely affects people's lives, particularly leaving as many as 270,000 children with eye fatigue and headache in the capital city Dhaka may be mistaken for yet another eye disease like conjunctivitis, myopia or night blindness. In fact it is none of the eye complications that either has its origin in the human body or is contagious. Rather, it refers to sights and scenes oppressive enough to the eyes to produce a sense revulsion or nausea. From this point of view, it is more psychological than physical and the extent of mental aversion decides the measure of damage to the eye. Indeed, from something uninspiring or proving an eyesore, susceptible mind's mood swing can transform into despair or even a sort of physical morbidity.  Continuously exposed to ugly and unnerving sights, people in general but children in particular can become the greatest loser at the cost of the precious gift of appreciation for aesthetics and soft and subtle human feelings.

A study by the Environmental and Social Development Organisation (ESDO) under the title "Visual Pollution in the City of Dhaka: A Public Health, Environmental, and Traffic Distraction" has found how this less known problem affects the city people's life. Twenty-four per cent of the city's inhabitants suffer from eye fatigue and children become the worst victim to this problem. This problem also has its relations to mental illness of 17 per cent of the city's population. The study further claims that the rise in the rate of death from road accident to as high as 40 per cent has also some connection to visual pollution. This particular problem has been ranked alongside overtaking, rash driving and intoxicated driving considered the top causes for road accidents.

How the last two conclusions have been arrived at has not been explained. Maybe, those brought under the study had expressed their disappointment with the dull, drab and even ugly sights they have to confront on a daily basis in the surrounding environment they live or negotiate. People's eyes hardly get any relief in the city's space where Nature presents its pleasant and enchanting sights and sounds. People cannot be blamed if they find the city hostile and turn sulky and depressed. But it is intriguing to attribute the rise in the 40 per cent death rate in road accidents to visual pollution. Distraction by the electronic billboards or the reflective glaze suddenly causing blurred vision may make both pedestrians and drivers err in judgment on roads ---for pedestrians while crossing and for drivers while driving. But should the problem take such a heavy toll?

By all means, however, the ESDO must be thanked for bringing this particular type of pollution to the public notice, because 95.89 per cent of this city's inhabitants are not even aware that they suffer from this problem which proves very costly. What all this points to is that the city is chaotic, unfriendly and lacking in idyllic, pristine and verdure spaces to relieve people under stress of their anxiety even if the invigorating system works for a while. The city needs to develop boulevards, parks and gardens that might not only offer breathing spaces but also offer attractive sights and relief from torturous troubles.

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