Use of generators during the loadshedding hours has added another nightmare for the senior citizens, patients and students in the already noisy Rawalpindi. The other day I saw an old lady in Fazal Town whose neighbours use generators. Headache overtakes her and her nerves get shattered by the loud constant irritating noise emanating from the generator. “I am just worried because my father is a heart patient and can’t tolerate this sound. My neighbour is not decent enough to listen to my request to not use generator and use UPS instead,” laments Shabbir Hussain, a Taajabad resident.
“When loadshedding starts the generators’ sound is almost killing especially during night hours,” says Nazim Rafiq, a senior citizen. “Such sound disturbs my preparation for the examinations,” complains Tahir Arif, a student. “In the commercial centres the shoppers have got used to this sound, but in the residential areas the use of generators should be banned,” suggests Ali Raza, a shop owner in Commercial Market, Satellite Town. “When I get home from the market full of deafening sounds, I need a peaceful atmosphere here so that I can take rest and sleep well. But the running generators in my neighbourhood kill this dream,” adds Ali.
“With generators or no generators around the corner, the noise pollution in Rawalpindi is going up with car horns’ ear-piercing sound and loudspeakers at wedding ceremonies blaring music on the streets. Traffic noise fills the city. Cell phone conversations have taken over the parks and sidewalks, buzzing electronics have invaded our homes, and each market has its own sonic environment. Most of us accept these noises as a normal by-product of our gadget-obsessed era. Those having a natural empathy for silence find living in Rawalpindi increasingly annoying,” says Sanam Khan, a schoolteacher in a government high school.
“The city is several times noisier than a decade ago. While its effect is not at once visible, it is nevertheless harmful in the long run, says Riaz Bhatti, a doctor.
“One aspect of this noise pollution is that celebrations have changed from being simple and sober to being imposing and extremely loud these days. Celebrations do not take place like they were some years ago. It isn’t about the fun of exploding firecrackers any longer but more about putting up a show. People and political parties are competing with each other to see who can hold a more impressive celebration,” adds Bhatti.
Anwer Khan, a trader, says, “There are more modern firecrackers, bigger loudspeakers and more people in our time, all adding to the noise pollution. For most Pindiites, peace is hard to find these days adding that in every complaint about life in the city, noise invariably ranks high on the list, but these are the same people who would go home and turn on the TV the minute they walk into the room.”
Sabeen Afsar, a college lecturer says, “If you’re going by a wagon or Suzuki, you’re going to get a lot of noise. The music speed and volume in public transport vehicles does to the passengers what the constant loud shouts of the wagon conductors does to them. The drivers and conductors think it’s their right to play their music as loud as possible or trying to yell at the top of their lungs. The question is also one of self-regulation and about individuals maintaining some decorum and discipline in public.”