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February 29, 2020

To combat noise pollution, laws alone not enough

  • Most people are familiar with the three most common types of environmental pollution — air, water, and land. Other types of pollution — noise, light, thermal, and visual — are less known. Noise pollution, in particular, has been on our mind a lot lately.
    Noise pollution is among the environmental issues facing Myanmar. High noise level affects many things, and is prevalent everywhere nowadays, especially in populous cities. Higher-than-permissible level of sound is becoming a problem that needs to be tackled urgently.
    Noise from vehicles on the road, loud music, and the blare of loudspeakers has become the norm these days. In the opening season, noise pollution resulted from higher-than-permissible levels of sound from loudspeakers on vehicles participating in processions across the cities, music from stage shows held in wards, and during religious festivals.
    In a nutshell, any sound that disturbs peace is noise, regardless of whether people are used to it or not. But have we ever stopped to think about the effects of noise pollution on humans?
    The social and behavioural effects of noise exposure are complex, subtle, and indirect. They give rise to aggressiveness, unfriendliness and disengagement—attributes that are beginning to define the residents of overcrowded and unplanned cities. Noise pollution also impairs performance at school and work, reduces motivation, and increases the scope for error.
    A democratic system guarantees democratic rights and human rights to the people. However, we must respect the rights of other people while we are enjoying our rights. We must try to prevent any form of pollution which can impact others.
    Civil conduct or democratic practice involves cultivating behaviour that does not cause any harm to others or disturb them in any manner.
    The present Ward or Village-tract Administration Law prohibits any noise that is deemed loud enough to be considered a public nuisance. The use of loudspeakers requires prior approval from local authorities, and any unlawful use is punishable by law.
    Considering the impact on public health, we all must follow the rule strictly. Unnecessary honking and loud noises should be banned and invite heavy penalties.
    But, laws alone are not enough to combat this new plague. Educating people on the adverse effects of noise pollution, unnecessary sounds from mobile phones in public places for instance, is equally important to meet our instinctive need for quiet and peace.

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