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Dhaka City Polls: Why the sound pollution?

  • Published at 10:55 pm January 23rd, 2020
The campaigns of mayoral candidates for the Dhaka City Corporation polls are criticized heavily by the city dwellers, mostly for disturbing the peace at a time when students are preparing for the SSC exams to be held in February Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

One of the favourite devices for campaigning for the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) candidates is canvassing for votes via loudspeakers

A group of people were conversing at a tea stall in Dhaka’s Rampura area. They were talking about the SSC exam that was knocking at the door, that their children’s education was getting hampered courtesy of the ear-grating songs, praising Dhaka city polls candidates, being played everywhere as part of electoral campaigning.

But they said that they could do nothing about it and no one was objecting either.

They said that candidates for elections were elected to give them the opportunity to serve people. “Is this how they serve people?” one questioned.

These kinds of songs and sound are a public nuisance and should be stopped, at least keeping the students in mind, they said.

It is not only Rampura area but all of Dhaka which suffers from the same problem.

One of the favourite devices for campaigning for the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) candidates is canvassing for votes via loudspeakers. 

After 8pm, in violation of the electoral rules of conduct, campaigners have been going around with processions in different parts of Dhaka, blaring  horns on motorcycles, screaming over microphones, and playing slogans and songs.

But, according to City Corporation (Election Code of Conduct) Rules 2016, no candidates can use loudspeakers to campaign before 2pm and after 8pm.

While talking to some people about the matter in Dhaka’s Rampura, Dhanmondi, Wari, Gopibagh, Jatrabari, it was found that most of the candidates did not follow this rule.

The high-pitched sounds – played from vans, cars and rickshaws day in and day out – are sometimes heard post midnight, disturbing people’s sleep, they said.

Not only sound pollution, but also laminated plastic posters and banners that pollute the environment are being widely used in the campaign. The campaigners are also throwing garbage in the streets during the campaign, locals claim.

Many have questioned if the people want to elect those not careful about their own campaigns take care of the city.

Sushasoner Jonno Nagorik (Sujan) Secretary Badiul Alam Majumdar said that the Election Commission should look into the electoral code of conduct. Failing to do so is a mark of its inefficiency.

“This is happening because they do not want to draw flak from the ruling party,” he said.

If someone is spared even after a crime, it encourages more offences. If the commission does not take care of polls conduct violation, the situation will become uncontrollable, he added.

Meanwhile, the High Court has ordered the authorities concerned to stop the production and use of laminated posters at the Dhaka north and south city corporation polls.

The bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Md Mustafizur Rahman passed the suo moto rule on Wednesday.

The court also issued a rule asking why the use of laminated posters should not be illegal.

People have claimed that candidates and their supporters can justify their acts in the name of election festivity but it could have been done otherwise. Politicians do not prioritize the environment. They violate the environment act in the interest of their electioneering.

Dr Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), said that several aspects of the electoral code of conduct had not been explicitly stated. If the election commission were to exercise its powers the instructions would be followed. 

When contacted, Election Commissioner Kabita Khanum said: “Whenever we [Election Commission] are informed about the use of loudspeakers, we take action.”

With regard to plastic posters, the EC was taking necessary steps according to the High Court directive, she stated.

The mayoral candidates of the main two parties participating in the election have made similar remarks on the issue on different occasions.

They said that they had told their activists that no polythene would be used on the posters.