Sound pollution has turned out to be acute in the capital city. It has gone far beyond the permissible level, putting the public health at risk, according to a survey.
Conducted at several points of the city, the survey reveals that sound pollution has reached the highest 120-130 decibels (dB) at many points -- almost double the permissible level.
It shows that noise pollution has increased alarmingly at different parts of the capital. The highest noise level recorded at Farmgate was 130.2dB during daytime and the lowest 65.7dB at night.
Sound pollution is caused by disturbing noise with harmful impacts on human or animal life. The source of noise worldwide is mainly caused by machines and transportation systems, automobile engines and construction works.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), generally 60dB sound can make a man deaf temporarily and 100dB sound can cause total deafness. It causes mental and physical illness among people. It causes high blood pressure, headache, indigestion, ulcer, and also affects sleep.
About 10 per cent of city dwellers are now hearing-impaired and 35 per cent suffer from low-hearing problem due to high noise pollution. Although the government announced the Noise Pollution (Control) Rules to protect public health from sound pollution, it has failed to enforce it so far.
In fact, noise pollution in the city has gone beyond control due to lax enforcement of the Noise Pollution Control Rules by the authorities concerned and lack of awareness among the people about the rules. The mobile courts of the traffic police can impose a fine of Tk 100 as per Motor Vehicles Ordinance 1983 against a vehicle for violating various traffic related offences.
The drivers of vehicles unnecessarily use their hydraulic horns to create blaring noise. People of the city, predominantly students, can't concentrate on their studies and are unable to sleep due to unbearable sound of horns.
There is, however, a provision of sentencing a person to a minimum of one month's jail term and Tk 5,000 fine or both and a maximum of six moths' jail term and Tk 10,000 fine or both for causing noise pollution violating noise pollution control rules as per a recent legislation. But such rules are hardly followed.
Any vehicle that generates more than 85 decibel sound after starting the engine, according to the Motor Vehicles Ordinance 1983, will not get clearance certificate while it is totally forbidden to install hydraulic horn in the transports. But a large number of buses and trucks has been using hydraulic horns threatening public health.
On its part, the traffic police claim that they are authorised only to enforce the Article 139 of the Motor Vehicle Ordinance 1983 where there is a provision to fine Tk 100 for using hydraulic horn. They say the drive they conduct against the vehicles permits them only to enforce the Motor Vehicle Act and not the noise pollution control rules. If there is a joint drive, then the environment department can enforce the noise pollution rules, they claimed.
Even if there is any chance of conducting joint drive, the police do not have a meter to read the sound level. They suggest that policymakers should amend the rules and laws that have flaws and pass a combined Act.
Around 25 per cent of the surveyed people of Dhaka city suffer from lung function abnormalities due to higher level of air pollution. Such lung function abnormalities cause different types of airborne diseases, like bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The government needs to launch awareness campaign on the rules and health-related issues against noise pollution and should be more active in enforcement of the rules. Monitoring teams should be expanded at main traffic points to determine whether the vehicles follow the rules or not.