August 14, 2017

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The Noise Pollution Control

When we first moved into the present house after my retirement, we were not yet familiar with the neighbourhood. All throughout my thirty five year’s career as a government employee, we had stayed at the residences provided by the respective departments. Most of the places we had lived were secluded or separated from the residential areas. The place we moved in was located in a congested residential area, so we had expected the hustles and bustles, and had prepared ourselves to be oblivious to the activities around us. We knew right from the beginning that we would have to change our life styles completely to survive the new way of life in a crowded neighbourhood. I do not mean to demean the people on the block, but was just trying to describe the dilemma we were faced, as we were accustomed to living in disciplined, regulated and above all tranquil departmental housing estates.
The taste of the new neighbourhood was felt from day one. During the day, as we were busy getting our meager belongings in place, we were so engrossed in our work, and were totally oblivious to the activities around us. Though I noticed the commotions in the neighbourhood, I could not pay much attention as my mind was focused on getting our meager belongings settled. However, in the late evening after everything was settled–exhaustion, relief and hunger set in. So I called it a day and took a quick bath. That was when everything came into perspective. The blare of a loudspeaker, advertising the available items, from a mobile vending cart was at full blast. The volume was so loud that the loose glass window panes vibrated.. Then while having dinner, a shrill voice of a woman pierced through the yet unfamiliar eerie noises around us. When listened carefully, I came to realize it was a fish monger hawking the different kinds of fish at reduced prices. The time was nearly 9 PM, so it must be the left overs from a nearby street market that she wanted to get rid off, before going home.
Right after dinner, I went straight to bed. In no time I must have fallen asleep, only to be rudely jerked awake by a loud hoarse voice. At first, I was dazed and disoriented and could not understand what was going on and felt a bit terrified. There was another loud similar shouting. Then only my senses regrouped and my mind was refocused and realized it was another hawker, a tofu seller. I checked the time and found it was nearly midnight. I wonder, who on earth would be eating tofu at this unearthly hours. That tofu vendor came regularly and almost punctually every night.
I tried to go back to sleep again and as I slumbered, another distracting and disturbing noise broke the silence of the night again. The incessant howling and barking of the stray dogs engulfed the whole block as the pack moved around, which was evident from the fact that their noises were not stationary. I did not know how long that went on as I was too exhausted and fell asleep again only to be aroused from sleep again. It was only 3 AM and I was hearing the sounds of diesel engines raising and people talking loudly over the loud noises of the engines. Only after about half an hour I heard the sound of two large buses rolling out of a narrow street, which was only a few feet from my bedroom window. This time I was afraid to attempt sleeping again, not knowing what would come next. As it was still very early I just lied down in bed and started to meditate in the lying posture. I was able to immerse myself in the peace and tranquility provided by meditation for a while, but was interrupted by the shrilly voice of a steamed peas seller. The time was nearly 5 AM and was time to rise from bed.
Then a piercing chanting in a foreign language was heard from some distance away, but still quite loud as it was coming from a loudspeaker. This became a regular routine every morning. Around 6 AM, another loudly amplified voice was heard. This time as it was in Myanmar, I understood straight away from their announcement that it was a group from a certain township outside Yangon, soliciting donations to feed the monks and nuns residing at their monastery. Similar groups could reach up to five or six in number on any given day. These groups are the most disturbing because they would talk nonstop, but were unintelligible due to the high volume of their amplifiers, which made their words either crackling or blurring with vibrations. Also there are impatient drivers who could not understand or tolerate the traffic jams inside the side streets, where the cars belonging to the residents lined both sides of a two lane street, blasting away their horns. There was not a single moment of peace and tranquility around the clock.
Noise pollution
I can go on listing the various sounds in my neighbourhood without an end, but I hope I had depicted quite a vivid scenario. The noises are not only disturbing, but they are also hazardous to the health and well being of humans as well as animals All these noises contribute to the noise pollutions, which are gaining awareness in many countries because of the adverse health effects they could inflict. According to the Wikipedia, out door noise pollution or noise disturbance is caused by machineries, transportation system– motor vehicles, planes and trains. The indoor noise pollution is caused by machineries, building activities, music performances from within. I could not find most of the disturbing noises I had mentioned anywhere, but in my opinion some of them are more damaging than the ones listed in the Wikipedia. They are, I think, peculiar only to our country because I have not heard such concentration of disturbing noises in other large cites in most countries I had been to.
What are the effects of noise pollutions?
I will mention the effects of noise pollution on humans. For reading convenience I will list them as follows:-
Health Effect
1.    Impairment of hearing.
2.    In extreme cases, permanent loss of hearing.
3.     Hypertension.
4.    Anxiety and stress reactions and in extreme cases fright.
5.    Cardiovascular disease.
Psychological Effect
1.    Headache
2.    Irritability and nervousness.
3.    Feeling of fatigue resulting in decrease of work efficiency.
These effects may not sound very troubling, however in the long run, the consequences can be very serious.
How to control noise pollution
So how can we prevent or control the effects of noise pollutions?
Start with your homes.  
1.     Soundproof your home by padding the walls with sound absorbing materials and carpeting the floors. If you cannot afford to do the whole house at least the bed rooms should be done.
2.     Keep machineries that generate noises away fro bed rooms and living spaces.
3.     Learn to meditate. Meditation can help you deal with noise and distress .
4.     Use ear plugs to block out loud noises.
5.     Stay away from noisy places, go somewhere peaceful and tranquil once in a while.
Deal with noises you cannot control
1.    Industrial facilities should be located far from residential areas.
2.     Restrict the unnecessary use of horns. Ban loud horns.
3.     Ban motor cars and motor cycles with noisy exhaust pipes .
4.     Regulate the use of loudspeaker and loudhailer.
5.     Regulate the noise levels by prescribing the maximum decibel range.
6.     Plant more trees as they absorb sound.
7.     Educate the populace to abide by the regulations of noise control.
8.    People should observe their civic duties and have considerations for others.
In conclusion, I would like to request the writers and especially the environmentalists among them, to educate the people through their popular talk shows.
Looking forward to a noise pollution free environment.

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