Sun. Aug 9th, 2020

The Disaster of Noise Pollution in Gilgit City

By Gul Baig Wakhani

Noise pollution is an intense and unpleasant sound which has awful and bad effect on human health, as well as the environment. It is a specific type of pollution which has extremely negative effects not only on human and animal ears, but also their brains.

Noise pollution increased numerous folds in the mid of twenty century due to the growth of factories, industries, machinery and so on. But one of the major roots of escalating of this type of pollution is carelessness and ignorance of humans. No other animals, except humans, have caused noise pollution in the ecosystem!

In this context, I would like to stimulate the thoughts of all stakeholders towards noise pollution  in Gilgit city, which has been intensifying for the last few decades. While my focus is on Gilgit city, other towns and cities in Gilgit-Baltistan, and rest of Pakistan, are also faced with this issue.

Gilgit, situated in the Karakoam mountains, is a beautiful city, popular for its gigantic mountains, and the Hanisara river, which flows at the foot of the city. The city’s historic significance as a seat of governance, trade and commerce is also well known and documented. Gilgit city was, a few decades ago, a big village, with some markets and a lot of agricultural and barren land. Today, Gilgit city has become a concrete jungle, with the agricultural land gradually vanishing. There are no major factories in the city, yet. The traffic on the roads is, nevertheless, very high, reflective of the city’s increasing population density. The hustling and bustling city is so noisy that the residents can no more hear the sound of Hanisara, which has flowed through the land for thousands of years.

The first factor is carelessness of the drivers who would honk their horns aimlessly. They display sensitivity towards hospitals, educational institutions, and places of worship.

The second factor is young boys who would accelerate their bikes, and often also take the silencers out, to make the noise unbearably worse! Looking at such attitudes and approaches, I am always shocked, because they don’t show any respect to the comfort of the people around. Why is this attitude so prevalent? Is there something lacking in the way the youth are being raised at home and school, or college?

The third factor relates to vehicle-management and maintenance. The traffic police, very few in numbers, are unable to regulate the vehicles. There is no check and balance of the quality of the vehicles and their maintenance. Any car that is able to run on its wheels can be seen on the roads, even if they are polluting the environment, and risking the lives of the people. Questions thus arise that whether Traffic police officials have got proper training about traffic control? How should they be dealing with security   of the citizenry? What may be reasons for lagging behind or neglecting to enforce the traffic rules and regulations? What may be the justifications for getting away themselves for not taking the fines and penalties when somebody breaches the traffic rules?

The fourth factor, and arguably the most significant, is the noise pollution caused by cars and small vehicles of all kinds which there’s no dearth, thanks to the easy availability of smuggled and stolen vehicles, popularly known as “Non-Custom-Paid or NCP” cars. These cars are cheaply available for a few hundred thousand rupees. Tractors, Suzukis (Public transport vehicles) and all cars of other sorts make so much noise that a crisis of sorts is emerging in the city. Following is a breakdown of the different factors adding to the noise pollution, other than the density of traffic:is flooding of NCP vehicles in Gilgit-Baltistan Region as they have increased the number of personal transports in a contrast to public transport. Hence it causes to enhance the noise pollution in Gilgit day by day. I feel so concerned that why the Government of Gilgit-Baltistan has given permission of NCB vehicles to such extent?

The fifth factor is rough and narrow road within Gilgit city and the adjacent areas. Because of such convincing reason, the mobilized traffic gets jammed leading to compel the drivers to press the horns each time. In such ways, the noise pollution could be expected more than 100%.

The sixth factor is pressure horn of vehicles. Several drivers use pressure horn instead of the normal horn which has an adverse effect on environment as well as on human minds and their health conditions. Related questions arise again that why they have keen interest of installing pressure horn? Do they have any kind of psychological issues? Do they feel and understand such misbehavior an honor for themselves? Why the officials of law enforcing agencies not take serious action against these elements?

The seventh and most noise transmitting, and irritating factor is use of loudspeakers everywhere that includes venues of the Market, political meetings, demonstrations and strikes, protests, other events such as Marriage ceremonies and places of worship.

Lastly, it is a pity to constantly and bitterly observe and experience the unbearable and explosive noise of the helicopters and airplanes due to putting in place of the helipads and airport within the residential areas in the tiny Gilgit city. Could they be shifted out of the populace towards peripheral areas? Why shouldn’t the local and national Governments heed towards such genuine considerations?

I feel so disappointed to notice and observe those who for the sake of their own interests bother the huge majority of the communities of the region. Buildings like unplanned residential areas and hostels have been constructed without any due consideration of the roads surrounding them to avoid noise pollution, particularly of the large vehicles such as buses, lories, trucks and tractors. Why do such people have no care of the whole society as we can realize that we live in a diverse society: for instance, some people would not like music, and others may have allergy from loudspeaker.

Why is there no care for patients who could be found, in one way or the other, in many houses and who get disturbed. Everywhere in our societies, students are found in each house who pursue their study and they are interrupted by constant hearing of loudspeakers. It’s a pity that for the sake of series of ceremonies, rites and rituals, such important segments of the societies are contravened time and again.

We need to understand that the noise pollution leads to emotional and behavioral stress. A person can be severely distressed by hearing of loud noise, such as beating of drums, horn of vehicles, helicopters, and sound of loudspeakers and so on. Noise can impair permanently the eardrum, and also cause diseases, like headache, blood pressure and heart failure. It also effects the sleeping pattern when it has been harmfully impacted individuals.

To explain further, it’s obvious in many instances that some time loud noise creates trouble in communicating to disturbed students and teacher in schools. Similarly, patients in hospitals to be evidenced getting trouble out of the noise pollution. It also creates social disturbance such as fighting among people. Scientific studies have shown that prolonged and regular exposure to excessive noise result to the physical and psychological health consequences on student or other reader’s health conditions. Noise pollution also impact on patient and patient remain in stress and hence he or she recovers late.

When somebody listens to music loudly, other person many not be able to bear it and the situations become nervous leading to fighting. The noise pollution also effects the social life of those persons who constantly listen to loud music or deliver his or her speech loudly. Consequently, the society does not give them respect.

Being a human (coupled with being a Muslim, if we do claim) we must care for everyone in our societies. It is our ethical, legal and religious obligation to control noise pollution. As it has been rightly said that change begins from oneself. let’s come and control noise pollution together in our society. It is controlled when every individual plays their sincere roles. Noise pollution in Gilgit can be controlled to a greater extend if the following points are kept in mind and materialized.

  1. All types of horn should be restricted in the areas like hospitals and schools. In case of violation, honest action should be taken against the individual.
  2. Government of Gilgit-Baltistan Region should legislate and enforce such a rule which bans use of loudspeakers in public place. if someone breaches the rule, serious punishment should be the violators.
  3. Action should be taken against the derivers of vehicles in bad conditions and he or she should be given warning to fix the issues pertaining to the tractors, cars, bikes, etc in the due date.
  4. If there is no any rule for the unfixed vehicles, the government should make legislations and enforce the new laws.
  5. The higher authorities of the police should allow the related personnel to manage the traffic rule and bring it in practical form.
  6. The road infrastructure should be in good condition and that should be widened and well carpeted. The traffic jump would thus get removed leading to direct control of noise pollution in Gilgit city.

Such type of noise pollution could be controlled if everyone realizes and fulfills his or her responsibilities. It requires every individual’s contributions if we start it from ourselves. The day would never be far away that Gilgit city will be free from all sorts of noise pollution and a model in the world.

The contributor is a student of BS – Chemistry, 6th Semester, at KIU, Gilgit.

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