Silence Zones drive smothered


City District Government Lahore (CDGL) has deserted the Silence Zones campaign intended to develop noise-free zones in the city in a bid to check noise pollution reaching alarming levels in the city.
Former DCO Sajjad Ahmed Bhutta launched the Silence Zones drive in January 26, 2010 but the incumbent DCO Ahed Cheema dumped it terming it worthless, a senior CDGL official told Pakistan Today.
The drive remained alive for one month from January 26, 2010 to February 24, 2010 during which period around 2,120 fine chits were issued to motorists for making noise in Silence Zones from Eden Center to the Canal bridge.
The drive had to be extended to Ferozepur Road along educational institutions and hospitals, a CDGL official said. However, after one month, the drive was brushed under the carpet, he said. He said that CDGL Deputy District Officer (Environment) Younus Zahid blamed City Traffic Police (CTP) for the drive’s failure, saying that CTP did not cooperate. However, he said that the campaign, at some level, was continuing at Lower Mall, Ghari Shahu and Chuburji.
“CDGL has only eight inspectors who could not carry out the drive alone. We need a minimum of 200 hundred inspectors to cope up with environmental challenges,” he added. CDGL had not allocated a special budget for the Silence Zones campaign and no notification to extend the drive has been issued so far, he added. CTO Syed Ahmed Mobeen denied issuance of any notification by CDGL regarding the Silence Zones drive after he assumed charge in 2010.
“In our daily routine we issue challans against drivers for using unnecessary pressure horns but not under CDGL directions,” said the CTO. Challan In-charge Clerk Farukh Aftab said, “Around one and a half years ago, CTP and CDGL started the campaign which ended in February 2010. After this, no notification has been issued from CDGL to CTP. At that time, 12 traffic wardens and eight CDGL inspectors worked together to introduce this campaign to citizens”. District Officer (Environment) Tariq Zaman showed his complete ignorance about the drive’s fate.
Punjab Environment Protection Department Deputy Director Naseemur Rehman Shah said that according to the World Health Organization, the standard noise level which a human brain could withstand was 60 to 65 decibels and in Silence Zones it stood at 45 to 50 decibels. However, in Lahore’s congested areas like Chuburgi, Lower Mall, Qartaba Chowk, Sanda Road, Ghari Shahu Road and Chungi Amer Sadu, the noise pollution touched 80 to 85 decibels.
He said two-stroke rickshaws, motorcycle rickshaws, vans and mini buses were major instruments of noise pollution. The Punjab government banned two-stroke rickshaws in 2005 but they were still operational, he added. Punjab Institute of Cardiology’s Dr Waseem said that noise pollution caused mental diseases and increased the possibility of deafness. Dr Shafqat from the Services Hospital said that patients’ attitudes agonised owing to noise pollution and depressed them.