Smog, pollution, garbage, dilapidated roads and dysfunctional traffic lights, unruly traffic (with the traffic police giving a semblance of trying to control it), most pedestrians and motorcycles outside the yellow line and pollution. You read the list and only one image comes to your mind: the streets of Karachi. One very crucial and often overlooked issue here is the noise pollution. Over the years, its intensity has increased manifold and its level definitely exceeds safety limit. The most obvious consequence is that when you speak to common workers, or rickshaw or truck drivers, they would speak in such a high-pitch that you feel they are yelling. Evidently, their hearing has been impaired. Noise pollution is a serious issue in this city and it needs to be urgently addressed.
In plain words, noise pollution is environmental noise that is annoying, distracting or harmful, such as the noise caused by construction or building activities, machines running in factories, transportation (rickshaws and trucks primarily), pressure horns (which even motorcycles have these days) and even loud music played at parties in residential areas.
Noise pollution can harm our health and have unpleasant consequences – from hearing impairment, loss of peace of mind and sleep, anti-social behaviour, irritation, aggression and sometimes even heart disease, hypertension or psychological problems. The list is endless. High noise levels can also result in birth defects.
Some possible solutions are: banning pressure horns, especially in bikes; booking those bikers who remove the silencers, providing workers with appropriate head gear which they can wear on construction sites, implementing noise pollution laws in residential areas (they do not allow loud music to be played beyond a certain time), removing factories from residential areas as well as banning rickshaws that do not use silencers.
Noise pollution in this city is on the rise. It is high time that the authorities step in and resolve this issue for good.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 20th, 2013.