Noise assails us every day and well into the night. Among the various hazards that residents of the nation's capital encounter in their day to day life, noise pollution remains a huge problem. Not very long ago, a study conducted by the Department of Environment (DoE) found that the sound level in many places in the city was as high as 120-130 decibels, which is almost double the permissible limit.

Such findings are indeed alarming, especially when the World Health Organisation (WHO) makes it clear that sound in the range of 60 dB can render a person deaf temporarily, while that of 100 dB can cause complete deafness. The study noted that one in every ten dwellers of Dhaka city was a victim of hearing impairment. Indeed 35 percent of people happen to be suffering from various degrees of hearing problems. An observation of conditions relating to the enormity of the city's population size easily demonstrates the grave nature of the problem. If it is not controlled, things might turn uglier for Dhaka in the long run. However, the authorities do not seem to be overly worried about the issue, which is unfortunate.

One does not require studies or research to realize that the use of pneumatic horns, which raise sound to as high a level as 100 decibels, in vehicles is a major reason behind sound pollution in Dhaka city. It is only by clamping down on such horns that we can roll back, at least to a certain extent, what continues to be an escalating problem. In a bid to put curbs of some sort on the problem of sound pollution in the capital city, the High Court imposed a ban on the use of pneumatic horns in vehicles in Dhaka city. It was our expectation the HC intervention in the matter would improve the situation but unfortunately we still observe to our consternation that the harmful gadget is being extensively used on city streets even today. This is a glaring example of the vehicle owners and drivers' cavalier attitude to the law. At the same time, it underscores the inability or a lack of sincere effort on the part of the relevant authorities to enforce the court directives.

Such conditions cannot be allowed to go on or to fester because they are directly linked to matters of public health. We cannot afford to remain in a state of indifference. It must be borne in mind that our looking away from the problem can only accelerate the arrival of a perilous future for citizens.

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