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You can call the cops if your neighbour plays loud music

  • Published at 01:07 am January 23rd, 2018
You can call the cops if your neighbour plays loud music
You can sense the arrival of winter in Bangladesh by the erection of wedding lights and pandals in almost every single street. At all times of night, these can be accompanied by the pulsating soundtrack of a gaye-holud functions. While extravagant celebration marks the joyous union of families, loud music can drive your neighbour to call the police on you. But what are the legal provisions to protect the rights of non-celebrating residents at times like this? The Dhaka Tribune has found that most city dwellers do not know what qualifies as noise pollution, or what to do if the neighbours insist “the show must go on”. Arnab Islam, a resident of Adabar residential area, said he had been disturbed by a holud function held on the rooftop of his building last Thursday. “We did not ask the organizers to stop playing loud music since we consider this as social program for a day, and not an offence,” he said. The issue has been brought into focus by the death of Md Nazmul Haq, a 65-year-old former public servant who was beaten death on January 19 after protesting against loud music played in a gaye holud program at the building where he lived in R K Mission Road. His son, Nasimul Haque, claimed that he had asked the building’s caretaker to request organizers stop playing the music as his father was a heart disease patient who had been unable to sleep. The general secretary of the Flat Owners’ Association for the building, Altaf Hossain, then called the son via the caretaker when his father Nazmul Haq came down. The organizers swooped on the son. When the father tried to stop them, they beat him up, too. Nazmul Haq fell to the floor and died on the way to hospital. M Abdul Matin, chairman of Bangladesh Poribesh Bachao (BAPA), said persistent noise polluters are unaware of the problems they are creating in the lives of others. “Musical instruments are played not only in gaye-holuds, but also in many local parties, religious and social programs, hampering others’ lives,” he said. The situation is more common in areas of Mohammadpur, Mirpur, Kalyanpur, Azimpur and the Old Town. You may protest, but whether the decibels (dB) will be reduced depends on the willingness of the people who are creating the noise. “The police should learn about legal provisions and take actions based on the law instantly. There should also be a dedicated cell in the local ward commissioner’s office where people can complain easily and receive a response,” Main added. Maisha Binte Habib, a resident of Senpara in Mirpur, said most people have no idea about the permissible limit for noise pollution. “Last month, there was a 31st party organized on a roof of our neighbouring building where some local political people and their supporters played loud music,” she said. “We could neither sleep until midnight, nor ask them to stop out of fear. We didn’t know if police could help us in this regard.”

What the law says

According to Noise Pollution (Control) Rules, 2006, the acceptable sound condition is 55dB for daytime (6am to 9pm) and 45dB for night (9pm to 6am) in residential areas. It is 50dB for daytime and 40dB for night in rural areas. The law, stipulates that organizers must take prior permission from local authorities at least three days before the program, or at least one day before in exceptional or emergency cases. The instruments that violate the sound limit cannot be used for over five hours a day, or after 10pm. If violated, people can complain verbally or via a written format to authorized officers who can issue a Tk5,000 fine or hand out one-month prison sentences, or both, if the allegation is proven true and the offender has violated the law only once. “A clear violation is seen when musical instruments crossing 100dB sound are used in most programs,” Md Ziaul Haque, director (air quality management) of Department of Environment, said. “People can make written complaint to us or the deputy commissioner’s office seeking solution, but that will take time. If complaint is filed to our department, we send our monitoring team to deal with that.” Ziaul said generators are also a recurring source of noise pollution, and are dealt with by their monitoring team. He said: “Our department did not have sufficient manpower to constantly monitor and deal with these issues. The Noise Pollution (Control) Rules 2006 do not clearly mention the role of police in such cases (so) an amendment is needed for clarification.” Dhaka Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner (media) Masudur Rahman said DMP police stations are always instructed to take action based on public comments. “People are free to enjoy their programs, but they should be careful that there joy should not affect others daily lives,” he said. “We do receive such complaints regularly, and send our teams to deal with those programs and take necessary steps as an immediate basis.”