Over 9000 complaints for extremely loud fireworks

New Year firecrackers light the night sky in Old DhakaDipu Malakar

The occurrence involving four-month-old Umair has gone viral on social media. The child had a hole in the heart from birth. His father Yusuf Raihan said his son was trembling frequently because of extremely loud fireworks as people were celebrating the New Year on Friday midnight. He could not sleep the whole night. He started suffering from breathing complications on the next morning and was taken to the National Heart Foundation in Mirpur, Dhaka. Umair breathed his last after three hours of admission at the hospital. Yusuf Raihan, who has begun the New Year by losing his son, does not know whom to hold responsible for his loss.

Physicians told him that Umair died of cardiac arrest.

Prothom Alo talked to four heart disease specialists to learn more about Umair. They said the child was suffering from “TAPVC (Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Connection) complexity” from birth. This a birth defect of the heart in which, oxygen-rich blood does not return from the lungs to the left atrium. Instead, the oxygen-rich blood returns to the right side of the heart. In the process, oxygen-rich blood mixes with oxygen-poor blood which causes the infant to get less oxygen than is needed.

Speedy surgery is the only remedy. Umair was on the list of patients waiting for surgery. The child also had a perforation in the heart. Though there is no direct connection between the death of the child and the sounds of firecrackers, any extremely loud sound or abnormal situation could make a patient's condition deteriorate.

According to the National Emergency Service 999, a total of 9,238 complaints were lodged to them concerning loud fireworks, high pitch music, various programmes and other loud noises in 2021. The number was 7,952 in 2020. This means, the number of complaints increased by 16 per cent in a year. The number of people complained in 2019 was 5,017. The control room of National Emergency Service 999 said they have been receiving phones throughout the year with complaints about high pitch sounds of music at different events, construction work and firecrackers. These are hampering the sleep of public exams candidates, elderly and ailing persons.

Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon joint secretary Iqbal Habid
File photo

Speaking to Prothom Alo, focal person (media and public relations) of National Emergency Service 999, police inspector Anwar Sattar said, “People should have some sensitivity in making such loud noises at night. Loud speakers are being used at different programmes without informing the concerned police stations.”

“Generally, people make phone calls when the sounds become unbearable after 12 at night. There could be unexpected reactions if police raid to stop the social programmes,” he added.

The National Emergency Service 999 said it received 112 complaints of sound pollution in nine hours, from 9:00pm of 31 December to 6:00am of 1 January. Among them, 54 phones were from the capital city. On the night, fire broke out at least six places in the capital city from fireworks and hor air balloons, locally known as 'fanush'. Fire Service and Civil Defence men had to work to douse the blazes in Jatrabari and Dholaikhal areas in the city.

‘Celebrations should be within limits’

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Shahana Huda, who works at a private firm and lives in Lalmatia in Dhaka, said her 97-year-old mother-in-law could not sleep in that night. She said there could be celebrations but that must be done within a limit and without causing problems of others.

Muntasir Maruf, assistant professor of the psychiatry department at the National Institute of Mental Health and Hospital, said loud noise, excessively bright lights make people irritated, distracts people's attention and hinders the thought process.

What does the law say?

According to the Noise Pollution (Control) Rules 2006, the limit of sound in any residential area should be 55 decibels from 6:00am to 9:00pm and 45 decibels from 9:00pm to 6:00am, in silent areas the limit at night should be 40 and in day 50 and in the mixed zone, the limit should be at night should be 50 and in day 60. In commercial area, the limit at night should be 60 decibel and in day 70 and in industrial area the limit at night should be 70 decibel and in day 75.

The law also stipulates that if any person is found guilty, he could be jailed for a maximum one month or fined Tk 5,000 or both.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA) joint secretary Iqbal Habib said, “Sound pollution has reached a dangerous level. Though there is a law to control sound pollution, there is weakness in implementation. It is also unclear who would implement the law.”

* The report, originally published in the print and online editions of Prothom Alo, has been rewritten into English by Shameem Reza