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Director of the Department of Environment Ziaul Haque admitted that there has hardly been any progress in controlling noise pollution. There has been a failure to apply the laws in this regard. While silent zones have been declared, these have not been implemented. The use of motorcycles has increased, and this is a source of the horn sounds. Alongside awareness, the concerned agencies must take a stern stance to stop the unwarranted use of horns.

Region head of Bangladesh and East India Uber, Mohammad Ali Armanur Rahman, felt that awareness had to be built up in order to change the habit of using the horn unnecessarily. He said, there are many drivers under the Uber umbrella. Uber has added to its training of drivers, the matter of not using the horn unnecessarily. Uber is eager to work with the police, BRTA, the department of environment and such relevant organisations to prevent such use of horns.

Executive director of CPD Fahmida Khatun said that there is no holistic research on the financial losses caused by the unnecessary use of horns. But overall, the impact of noise pollution is extensive. Alongside health costs, noise pollution also reduces a person's working capacity and this has an impact on the GDP. Unless Dhaka is decentralised, noise pollution will not decrease. There are also questions as to how far the prevailing laws pertaining to noise pollution are actually being applied.

Chief executive of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) Syeda Rizwana Hasan said that the noise pollution on Dhaka was steadily deteriorating. She said that Bangladesh's drivers didn't believe that a vehicle can be driven without using the horn. There was a wide gap between the application of the noise control act and reality. There has to be a campaign about the concerned law and the effect of horns on public health.

Professor Syed Abdul Hamid of Dhaka University's Institute of Health Economics, said because of noise pollution, on the one hand medical costs were escalating and on the other hand, productivity was falling. The use of horns was linked to road and traffic management, town planning and such matters. Unless overall measures were taken to stop this use of horns, this would not be possible. Alongside declaring silent zones, all that was needed to implement this must be done.

Professor of clinical psychology at Dhaka University, Kamal UA Chowdhury, said excessive noise pollution was creating mental unrest among Dhaka's residents. He said, such excessive use of vehicle horns also reduced children's interest in learning. There were several hospitals on the way from Gabtali to New Market, yet this road was extremely noisy due to loud horns.

Pedestrians' awareness about road crossing also needed to be raised. If there were large mirrors at the head of every lane, the drivers wouldn't need to honk when turning the corners.
Ziaur Rahman, Uber driver

Founder and director of Centre for Atmospheric Pollution Studies (CAPS), Ahmad Kamruzzman Majumder said in various areas of Dhaka, noise pollution was increasing by 7 to 10 per cent per year. Some areas have been declared silent zones, but there is even more noise pollution around these areas. Areas are being suddenly declared silent zones without taking any of the prerequisite measures.

Eco Social Development Organisation (ESDO)'s Muhammad Shahid Uz Zaman said that like eyes, people must also have their ears checked regularly. He said, if at least one area could be made horn-free, that could be used as a model for later initiatives. Concerned partners must come forward under government leadership. Voluntary organisations like Red Crescent, Scouts, Bondhushava and such must be used to create public awareness against using horns.

Unnecessary honking of horns is a major reason behind adults' hearing impairment, said the WHO National Professional Officer Mahfuzul Huq. He said there are global discussions on impeded hearing. The laws to prevent unnecessary use of horns must be implemented and awareness must be increased. Hearing must be tested regularly.

Country director of Pure Earth Bangladesh Mahfuzur Rahman said that traffic congestion was a major reason for the use of horns. This unnecessary use of horns is taking its toll on people's patience. The use of horns must be stopped so that the next generation can grow up without noise pollution.

Filmmaker Abu Sayeed felt that traffic police have a role to play in preventing the use of horns. He said a particular areas needs to be made completely horn-free. Whatever needs to be done to make the area horn free, must be done.

Uber driver Ziaur Rahman said, drivers have become habituated to using the horns. Loud noises were distracting. Even after returning home, one felt irritable. Pedestrians' awareness about road crossing also needed to be raised. If there were large mirrors at the head of every lane, the drivers wouldn't need to honk when turning the corners.

Prothom Alo associate editor Abdul Quayum delivered the introductory speech. The event was moderated by Prothom Alo assistant editor Firoz Choudhury.

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