The baseline profile prepared for the Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) project kept the Environment Protection Department (EPD) Punjab in darkness and hid the truth about the noise pollution at the route of the project, Pakistan Today has learnt.
Noise pollution is unwanted sound which is released into the environment which not only disturbs people but also causes an adverse effect on the mental and psychological health. Medics believe that noise pollution is a reason for physiological effects like induced hearing loss and other health issues like aggressive behavior, disturbance in sleep, constant stress, hypertension, sleeping disorders, cardiovascular issues like blood pressure levels, cardio-vascular diseases, stress, and trouble in communication between two people.
Veterinary practitioners believe that noise pollution also affects the health of animals.
The government is going ahead with the controversial OMT project worth 1.62 billion despite all reservations and objections of the public and opposition political parties. For the execution of the project, Lahore Development Authority (LDA) was the proponent for seeking no objection certificate (NOC) from the EPD which was rewarded on July 09, 2015.
In baseline profile of the project, where many other facts are fabricated or misguided it also pretended to hide the facts about the noise pollution during and after the construction of the project. The 27 kilometre long route of OMT project from Dera Gojra to Niaz Baig mostly lies along various roads where dense traffic like buses, trucks, auto rickshaws, motor bikes, cars, vans are already running. But the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) is silent pertaining to the noise pollution that the project is causing. This EIA approved by the EPD indicated that the ambient noise along the 27 KM route of Orange Train is exceeding the National Environmental Quality Standards (NEQS) at every site.
According to the baseline profile document, the EIA of noise level at 10 sites along the OMT route was greater than the 80 decibel (dB) while the lowest noise level was found 70.3 dB which was at UET gate No 3.
According to the NEQS, the noise level should not be exceeded than 55 dB in residential while 65 dB in commercial areas. In this way, the noise level is already exceeded than the NEQS at all sites of the OMT. However, EPD in EIA report conceal the facts about noise pollution and compared the measured noise level with non – applicable and irrelevant ambient noise standard i.e. 80 dB.
According to the World Bank guidelines and NEQS which have been approved by the Punjab Environment Protection Council (PEPC), the noise level should not exceeded 55, 65, 75 and 50 decibel (dB) in residential, commercial, industrial and silence zone respectively in day time and 45, 55, 65 and 45 dB respectively during the night. There is no guideline present which indicates that the noise level as 80 dB.
Sources in EPD said that the purpose of comparing noise results with non applicable and less stringent standard is to conceal the facts of high level of noise pollution.
An official in EPA seeking anonymity told Pakistan Today that the electric train produces noise up to 100 dB when it runs on the rail metal track. He said that the train wheels and track are metallic which produces high noise when train wheel move on metal track. “The whole area is already in severe noise pollution which will become more severe when Orange train will start running on its track” he said adding that the underground trains cause less noise pollution in its surroundings.
This scribe tried to contact Director General EPA Javed Iqbal but he was not available.
On other hands, this the EIA report of OMT is also silent on the quantitative release of emissions of pollutants like Carbon Monoxide, Hydrocarbons, Nitrogen Oxides, in accordance with Environmental Standards (g/km) of Environment Department regarding motorized emission along the roads of the project.