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Monday, January 18, 2021 10:42:55 PM
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Noise Pollution How Much Corona Contributed To Reduce?

Professor Dr. Ahmad Kamruzzaman Majumder

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The whole world has fallen into the grip of lockdown due to the coronavirus and its death paw. The overall economy is suffering along with the panic of public life due to the huge number of mortalities. If anything positive emerges from this horrific epidemic crisis, one of them is the reduction of terrible noise pollution in urban areas. Noise pollution was considered a serious environmental problem in the cities of Bangladesh until the day before the lockdown. The next generation was especially at risk of being harmed mentally and physically due to noise pollution. According to a 2013 study by the World Health Organization, 20 percent of the country's population has hearing loss, of which 26 percent are children.
Noise pollution causes hearing loss, deafness, heart disease, irritable mood, and disruption of students' learning. Noise pollution causes stress. Loud noises are deadly harmful to pregnant mothers, children's and peoples with heart disease. Children's mental development is hampered due to noise pollution. Sudden loud noises increase the blood pressure and heart rate of the human body, cause muscle contraction, disrupt digestion, and put severe stress on the veins and nervous system.
In 2016, the Department of Environment conducted a survey on noise levels in eight divisional cities of the country, which found that noise levels exceeded permissible levels in all places. Noise pollution occurs due to various reasons. Motor vehicles and their horns are the main cause of noise pollution in urban areas. Many times drivers sound the horn in vain. It has been found that in many parts of the city, the horn is sounded up to 1000 times in 10 minutes. Besides, noise pollution occurs due to various reasons like construction of buildings, weddings, ceremonies, festivals, miladmahfils, political meetings, parties, concerts, generators, factories in residential areas etc.
Excessive noise had been an irritant to the people of the capital city Dhaka, but now it has taken on even more serious proportions. The sound of the street was heard everywhere and enters homes, hospitals, schools, colleges, offices, courts and is a constant and serious nuisance for the residents of the city. Although the authorities could not take any effective measures to control the noise pollution, the deadly Covid-19 (Corona) epidemic has controlled the noise pollution in Dhaka in an instant.
Due to the Covid-19 general holiday and lockdown, people are getting rid of noise pollution, albeit temporarily. Stamford Center for Atmospheric Pollution Studies (CAPS) takes periodic monitoring of ambient noise in some selected locations of the Dhaka city for last couple of years. Usually they listen out for the sounds of traffic, car engineers, horns and construction works however, since the lockdown (general vacation) began, they have found bird song is easier to hear.
Noise pollution in the capital began to decline soon after the announcement of the closure of all educational institutions on March 16 due to the Corona epidemic. Notably, noise pollution has been reduced in Dhaka city due to the closure of public buses, trucks, trains, motorbikes, constructions, parties, cultural events etc. Following the March 25 lockdown, sound level has fell within the standards set by the Department of Environment's Noise Pollution (Control) Rules 2006. The minimum noise level during the day in the Dhanmondi residential area was recorded at 40 decibels while the standard level was 55 decibels, according to the April 1st"CAPS" observation. Prior to the lockdown, "CAPS" received a noise level of 81 decibels in the same location. Noise pollution in other areas of Dhaka city has been reduced to a large extent.
Those of us who are causing noise pollution are also victims of it. So we all need to be vigilant to stop the sources of noise pollution along with the programs taken by the government. In addition to changing the mindset of the public and policy makers, it is important to adopt and implement short, medium and long term integrated plans to control noise pollution. Everyone must work together to prevent noise pollution and work from their respective places. The teachers and students of educational institutions have to play an effective role in protecting our people from deadly diseases like noise pollution.
Specific recommendations for controlling noise pollution are Introduce signposts in designated zones (silent, residential, commercial, industrial and mixed) as defined by the rules; Conduct regular mobile courts; Not to convert residential areas into commercial areas; Bangladesh Police, Bangladesh Road Transport Authority, Local Government and with the Department of Environment should coordinate with other administrative departments, including the Ministry of Commerce; Stop importing hydraulic horns, increase the penalty for honking and issue licenses to the drivers only after verify sound awareness; Vehicle clearance according to noise level; Control the use of private vehicles by improving public transport systems; Creating green fences by planting trees along the road; Determining the quality of generators and all types of noise generating equipment; Non-issuance of clearances for setting up factories without taking steps to reduce noise levels; Prohibit the playing of microphones at social, political and religious events without permission and restrict the sound of microphones; It will be possible to control noise pollution by setting up community-based committees to monitor violations of noise pollution laws and raising awareness about noise pollution damage, remedies and existing laws.

(Dr.  Kamruzzaman Majumder is Joint
Secretary, Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA),
E-mail: dk@stamforduniversity.edu.bd))

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