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The lone hero fighting Dhaka’s abysmal noise pollution

  • Published at 09:28 pm January 20th, 2019
Mominur holds up placards urging restraint against honking horns in Dhaka on Friday January 18, 2019 | Dhaka Tribune

Ever since his daughter was born, Mominur takes at least 5-10 minutes out of his routine every day to spread his message

Dhaka is considered one of the least liveable cities for good reason, and the appalling noise pollution plays a huge role in facilitating the ignominy. Sound levels are always above permissible limits citywide, regardless of strict regulations, which only seem to be adhered to inside the Cantonment area.

As drivers flout laws and honk away, cause lasting damage to people around them, one man has risen from the crowd, and over the past four years, crusading against the egregious auditory blight.

Meet Mominur Rahman Royal, an ad firm executive by profession, a photographer by hobby, and an activist by responsibility.

He has a single message, that has gone viral over the years on social media for its puerile yet succinct message: “Horn hudai bajay vudai” which translates to “Only a gronk, will unnecessarily honk.”

Mominur printed out his slogan on a bright yellow placard and silently stands like a sullen sentinel at the busiest of the city’s intersections. The message, while not 100% successful, does its part in shaming many drivers into showing restraint when it comes to pressing the horn.

On Friday, the Dhaka Tribune found him standing at the intersection of Dhanmondi Road 27 and Mirpur Road.

When asked, he narrated his story: “It has been four and a half years. I do not speak to anyone; I just try to deliver the message to the people. It says people who unnecessary use horns are ‘vudai’, which means idiot.”

Mominur used to stand up once or twice a month for his campaign. But ever since his daughter’s birth four months ago, he takes at least 5-10 minutes out of his routine every day, and a whole hour twice a week to spread his message.

 “I live in Mohammadpur. Horns there are as commonplace as anywhere else in Dhaka. I found my daughter shaking and crying as the horns pierced through the walls and caused her great discomfort. I am worried what impact the noise pollution will have on our children and their children,” Mominur said.

Mominur’s crusade often inspires many to step out of their daily routine, and stand alongside him while proudly holding aloft the placard.

He knows how much damage noise pollution can cause, and remains hopeful of bringing about a change in attitude towards the reckless use of horns.

“Change will come,” he said.

In Bangladesh, sound levels are far beyond acceptable level, particularly in all the major cities, according to a 2017 study by the Department of Environment (DoE). In Dhaka, the average sound level is 80-110dB in prime areas such as Farmgate, Karwan Bazar, Shahbagh, Gabtoli and Mohakhali Bus Terminal, says the study report.

This is almost twice the maximum noise level that can be tolerated by humans – 60dB – without suffering a gradual loss of hearing, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Around 11.7% of the population in Bangladesh have lost their hearing due to noise pollution, says the DoE study.