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Study: Secretariat area turned noisier after ban

  • Published at 10:51 pm January 10th, 2020
Bapa officials speak with the press at Dhaka Reporters' Unity auditorium on Friday, January 10, 2020 Courtesy

CAPS founder Dr Ahmed Kamruzzaman presented the keynote paper at the event

Despite government directives of making the area around the secretariat including the link road to Zero Point, Paltan intersection as "No Horn Zone" last December, noise pollution has worsened. 

Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA) and Centre for Atmospheric Pollution Studies (CAPS), Stamford University, jointly revealed this information during a conference on Dhaka people suffering from noise pollution at the Dhaka Reporters' Unity (DRU) yesterday. 

CAPS founder Dr Ahmed Kamruzzaman presented the keynote paper at the event.  

Earlier on December 16, Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Md Shahab Uddin, along with other ministers and officials concerned banned vehicles from honking on the streets surrounding the Bangladesh Secretariat in Dhaka to curb noise pollution.

The punishment for honking in a silent zone is maximum one month in prison or a Tk5,000 fine or both for first time violators, according to the Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act of 1995. 

For repeat offenders, the punishment is a maximum of six months’ imprisonment or a Tk10,000 fine or both.

BAPA President Abdul Matin said that high sound levels cause heart attacks. 

Only laws will not help as we need to create more awareness among people regarding this issue to battle noise pollution, he added.

“Many government officials use cars with multiple horns, one of which is a hydraulic horn. How do you expect ordinary truck and bus drivers to obey the law when all these high-ranking government officials do the opposite?"

According to the American National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the World Health Organization (WHO), noise above 50 decibels can adversely affect public health, especially those individuals who suffer from hypertension and heart disease, and any sound above 60 decibels can temporarily make a person deaf and prolonged exposure to sound above 100 decibels can cause hearing impairments.

Quite area not so quiet

According to the study conducted from December 14  to December 22, sound level in the area surrounding and adjacent to Bangladesh Secretariat was more than 70 decibels for 87.57% of the time of the study (6am to 9pm) before the ban. 

However, people in the area were exposed to sound levels of 70 decibels or more for longer (96.03% of the time of the study) after the ban, indicating the deterioration in sound pollution.

According to the Noise Pollution (Control) Rules 2006, the acceptable sound condition for Bangladesh is 50 decibels for the day time and 40 decibels for the night time in quiet areas, 50 decibels for day time and 45 decibels for the night time in residential areas, 70 decibels for day time and 60 decimals for the night time in commercial areas and 75 decibels for day time and 70 decibels for the night time in industrial areas, 60 decibels for the day and 50 decibels for night time in mixed areas, for example residential, commercial and industrial localities.

Sound level during day time at the secretariat area was never recorded to be below 50 decibels, the study further stated. 

While talking to the press, Stamford University Bangladesh Vice-Chancellor Prof Muhammad Ali Noki said that more universities should carry out such kind of critical research initiatives. 

"Stamford University Bangladesh and BAPA intend to work together on other environmental issues as well," he added. 

Echoing the same, BAPA Executive Secretary Sharif Jamil said: "We all have to work together in order to control noise pollution." 

A 12-point recommendation was also made during the event to curb noise pollution.

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