Noise pollution in Pakistan
By: DILBAR DETHO
This is apropos of Fayyaz Bukhari’s letter about fireworks at weddings being a nuisance. I agree with the writer. A noise is a nuisance that is a major threat to human lives, and in the past 30 years, such noise has been increasing rapidly. In Pakistan, unfortunately, there is no legislation to deal with the noise emanating from railway engines, aircraft or airports or industrial or construction activities. Public complaints about noise pollution are often received in the federal and provincial Environmental Protection Agencies, but in the absence of national standards for noise, these agencies do not take any legal action.
The road traffic noise is another source of noise nuisance in urban areas of Pakistan; the situation is getting alarming with increase in traffic density on city roads, particularly in Karachi. At present, there are no national standards for prescribing noise limits for residential areas, industrial areas, commercial areas or silence zones. Most of the areas, particularly the urban side, are subjected to unacceptable noise conditions due to construction, manufacturing, traffic and recreational activities. No national survey has been conducted to assess the noise level in cities. However, random tests in different cities showed that the noise level in most of the areas was a high as 70 to 90 dB (A), which is much higher than the acceptable limit.
At present, there is no specific and detailed legislation to control noise pollution. The government should pass a Noise Pollution Control Act to meet special Pakistani conditions. Apart from such central legislation, there should be a noise control code for all major cities in Pakistan. Creation of unnecessary noise has to be prohibited and should be punishable under law, which is made by the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) exercising its power under clause (d) of the Pakistan Environmental Protection Ordinance (PEPO), 1983.
I urge government to revise the Pakistan standards for noise emission for motor vehicles and ban on use of pressure horns, marriage halls, clubs, hotels, musical shows, musical shops, fairs, and exhibitions. The ban should extend to use of fireworks.
In this regard, TV, radio, Internet and newspapers should be used to publicise the issue and its solutions.