Severe noise pollution in Dhaka!
The Department of Environment (DoE) has conducted a study on sound pollution at 70 points in Dhaka city. The results are alarming. The sound level in many places is as high as 120–130 decibels (dB) which is almost double the permissible limit. The World Health Organisation states that 60dB sound can make a person deaf temporarily and 100 dB can cause complete deafness.
The study tells us that a tenth of city dwellers suffer from hearing impairment and 35 percent are suffering various degrees of hearing problems. We are talking about millions of people with permanent or partial damage to hearing. The Noise Pollution (Control) Rules 2006, had they ever been implemented, would disallow brick crushers within a 500-metre radius of a residential area. It would make it mandatory for people or organisations to take prior permission before using loudspeakers and offenders could potentially face a month of jail time or Tk 5,000 or both.
The sad reality here is that when it comes to protecting public health, successive governments have shown a greater preference in formulating laws rather than implementing them. Now that we know the results of such lax implementation of rules, precisely what do authorities intend to do about the situation? Because we are not talking only about impaired hearing since sound pollution also causes various mental illnesses and is known to cause high blood pressure and increased chances of cardiac arrest amongst other things.
There is a cost involved with each of these conditions that ultimately come back full circle to put pressure on public health expenditure. It is high time awareness campaigns were launched accompanied by the long-delayed implementation of the 2006 rules because otherwise, the pollution will keep growing, making millions more sick in Dhaka city.