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Noise pollution control laws need to be strengthened

Published : Sunday, 16 January, 2022 at 12:00 AM  Count : 340
Anik Ahmed

Noise pollution control laws need to be strengthened

Noise pollution control laws need to be strengthened

The tragic incident of four-month-old baby Umayer is circulating on social media. The baby was born with a hole in the heart. According to his father, Umayer was trembling at the loud sound of fireworks and crackers at the Thirty First celebration on December 31. According to the Facebook post by Mohammadpur resident Yusuf Rayhan, his ailing son had started crying and trembling and his health condition had worsened after being frightened by the sound of fireworks set off to welcome the New Year Friday midnight.

Umayer died after being taken to the hospital the next day, he said. The father, who started the new year by losing his child, is blaming noise pollution for his son's fate. Not just this child, but the whole civil life is being ruined by the terrible clutches of noise pollution. Noise pollution from car hydraulic horns, the sound of brick-breaking machines, the sound of machinery used in construction, the noise of generators, the noise of factories, the sound of music or mike etc are causing pollution.

High levels of noise can cause hearing loss, deafness, heart disease, mood swings, ulcers, and nausea. Children and elders are most affected. Even unborn babies suffer from noise pollution, meaning they lose their hearing very quickly.

According to the data of National Emergency Service 999, last year there were 9,236 complaints about fireworks, firecrackers, loud music, programs, etc. 6,952 people complained in the year 2020. In other words, the number of complaints due to high noise has increased by 16 percent in 2021 as compared to 2020 [The Daily Prothom Alo, 7 Jan 2022]. But there is no way to stop this pollution.

The Noise Pollution (Control) Rules 2006 is the only legal tool for controlling noise pollution. The Noise Pollution (Control) Rules 2006 have been enacted with the power of Section 20 of the Bangladesh Environmental Protection Act, 1995. Under the rules, quiet, residential, mixed, commercial, and industrial areas are identified and noise standards are set.

According to Rule 5, the noise level in the residential area from 9 pm to 6 am cannot exceed 45 decibels and 55 decibels at other times of the day. In commercial areas, it is 60 and 70 decibels respectively. Hospitals, educational institutions, offices, and courts have been declared as silent areas up to 100 meters. There is a noise level of 40 decibels at night and 50 decibels during the day.

According to the noise pollution (control) rules, the use of horns in vehicles outside the permitted limits is prohibited. Despite the ban on horns in many streets, the implementation rate is low. It will not be easy to suddenly change the habit that has been formed for many years by punishment or fine.

As Per Rule 9, in case of marriage ceremony, sports, concert and cultural events, political or any other kind of meeting, fair, procession, etc. conditionally exceeding the level of noise is permitted. However, permission must be obtained from the authorities. Such noise cannot be heard for more than five hours, and the ceremony must be completed by ten o'clock at night. Although in most cases it is not done.

According to Rule 10, microphones and loudspeakers can also be used at picnic sites designated by the authorities. However, from 9 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon. And the picnic should be organized at least one kilometre away from the residential area. We have not noticed any tendency to obey this law.

Rule 11 states that construction equipment may not be operated from 7:00 pm to 7:00 am. Brick or stone-breaking machines may not be used for construction work within 500 meters from the last boundary of a residential area. But there is no such thing as the last boundary of a residential area in Dhaka city. The experience in other big cities is that construction goes on at midnight and even throughout the night. Whether one's sleep is disturbed, the loss of children's education, the suffering of the sick and the elderly, nothing can stop the construction work untimely.

Rule 13 states that if you make a sound in a confined space, you must make sure that the sound does not go out. However, any construction work in the building, drill machine, office decoration is regularly breaking this rule.

According to Rule 18 of the Noise Pollution (Control) Rules 2006, there is a provision of one-month imprisonment or a fine not exceeding five thousand Taka or both for the first offense for violating the law. Subsequently, there is a provision of imprisonment for six months or a fine not exceeding 10,000 Taka or both for the same offense.

But in reality, the application of this law is not seen. There are discussions on strengthening the law on different occasions every year. Last year, on International Noise Awareness Day, the Minister for Environment, Forests, and Climate Change said that existing laws would be changed if necessary to stop noise pollution. However, we did not notice any visible progress. There are three types of environmental courts in Bangladesh. One of which is the mobile court. Only through this court is it possible to take swift action to control noise pollution and in the other two courts, there is no case of noise pollution.

Now is the time to strengthen the Noise Pollution Control Rules 2006. It is possible to curb noise pollution by enacting more stringent and timely laws. However, it is not enough to just make a law, it is important to enforce the law properly. There is a need to raise awareness among the people to control noise pollution. Extensive publicity campaigns are needed to increase public awareness. Noise pollution can be controlled if the legal responsibilities and duties assigned to the Department of Environment, Local Government, Urban Development Authority, and law enforcement agencies are fulfilled with sincerity, honesty, and sincerity.
The writer is pursuing
LLB at Department of law,
Rajshahi University

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