Honking breaks silence in silent zones

Kathmandu, October 28:

Though the government has declared hospital areas as ‘silent zones’, none of the motorists seem to follow the government declaration. They seem to be simply unaware of the adverse effects of noise pollution to patients in nearby hospitals.

“I am not a single driver to honk near the hospital,” said Kanchha Tamang, a microbus driver. He further suggested this scribe to first ask other drivers not to honk. Tamang also asked the authorities concerned to show alternative to blowing horns to get rid of traffic jams.

Dr Dinesh Bikram Shah, senior consultant neurologist at Bir Hospital, said the patients were forced to live in noisy environment which might adversely affect their health. “The patients kept for observation are the major victims of noise pollution. Regular honking can increase blood pressure of patients,” Shah added.

“The authorities of Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) are not taking this issue seriously. Installing hoarding boards and requesting drivers not to use honk near hospital areas alone won’t help. They should come up with more effective programmes to control

noise pollution,” Dr Shrawan Kumar Chaudhary, director of Bir Hospital, demanded.

He also said the hospital had written to the KMC many times to come up with effective measures to control noise pollution, but to no avail.

However, Dinesh Thapaliya, executive officer of the KMC, said the KMC had received no such letter.

“It is not entirely our responsibility. We can only recommend the government bodies to control noise pollution. The parking space near the hospital and frequent protest programmes in the adjoining areas are the major reasons behind the noise pollution in Bir Hospital area,” Thapaliya added.

Talking to this daily today, SSP Bhisma Prasai at Metropolitan Traffic Police Division said

they were taking the issue seriously.

“We have conducted several campaigns to create awareness among motorists not to use pressure horns in city areas. We even seized around 700 pressure horns of different vehicles some three months ago,” Prasain said, adding it is difficult to control noise pollution in hospital areas in the Valley as most of the hospitals are located in areas where vehicular movement is high.

As per the existing provisions, a driver can be slapped a fine of Rs 200 for using pressure horns in silent zones.