Noise pollution wreaking havoc in residential areas

Many HCMC dwellers at present have to endure too much noise from nearby stores, food shops, and family karaoke activities, which negatively affects their life quality as well as social order.
The huge sound system in a restaurant on Truong Sa Street in District 3

The huge sound system in a restaurant on Truong Sa Street in District 3

Every day at 6:00 p.m., people living along Truong Sa Street passing Binh Thanh District, Phu Nhuan District, and District 3 hear deafening noise coming from restaurants and food shops there. This clattering noise not only disturbs the attention of passersby but also prevents local residents from having a retiring night. A similar story can be easily found on famous streets for food shops such as Hoang Sa, Pham Van Dong, Ung Van Khiem.

Sharing another annoying story related to noise pollution is Nguyen Quynh Nhu from Xo Viet Nghe Tinh Street in Binh Thanh District. She said that her family and neighbors had just been ‘terrorized’ by a karaoke session of a nearby household until 12:00 a.m. when that house had held a birthday party. She does hope that the local authorities adopt practical measures or sanctions for people to control the noise they create and not to disturb others.

Statistics from the HCMC Department of Natural Resources and Environment reveal that in 2022, the city detected nearly 8,700 cases of noise-related violations, 135 of which were fined for a total of VND430 million (US$17,470). This is a rise of over 2 times compared to 2021.

Functional agencies shared that despite applicable legal documents like Decree No.45/2022/ND-CP or No.144/2021/ND-CP to punish noise-related violations in residential areas, it is not at all easy to pinpoint and fine law breakers. For instance, there is not enough equipment to calculate the exact noise volume for evidence; or when state units come to noise creation sources, related people immediately turn off the sound.

The People’s Committee of Go Vap District informed that in September 2023, the district received 333 reports regarding disturbing noise in residential areas. The local leaders find that propaganda campaigns to raise the awareness of the public, especially merchandise stores, about harmful effects of noise to human health and social order are the key to solving the problems.

Also, functional units should tighten their patrols around trading points that might create noise to timely detect and punish violators.

In one formal discussion session with the city leaders themed ‘Dealing with Noise in Residential Areas’, held by the HCMC People’s Council and Voice of HCMC, Deputy Head of the Urban Committee under the municipal People’s Council Le Xuan Vien said that to address noise pollution in residential areas, it is necessary to choose a proper consultation unit for the local authorities to devise feasible solutions.

Particularly, business establishments must be required to sign a commitment to observing noise control regulations. It is also essential to make a list of regular places that create disturbing noise or encroaching sidewalks for stricter monitoring.

Dr. Dinh Thi Thanh Nga from the Law Department in Sai Gon University commented that noise pollution in HCMC has become a social problem which are torturing local residents after a tiring day at work. This pollution has caused more stress and even sleep disorder or psychological instability to nearby households, ultimately leading to physical harms.

Deputy Chief Inspector Thai Hoang Vu of the HCMC Department of Natural Resources and Environment said that HCMC has introduced various channels to timely receive and handle reports from the public about noise pollution. They include the general Hotline 1022, the special Hotline on environmental pollution of the HCMC Natural Resources and Environment at the number 028.38290568, local hotlines and e-portals of all districts, the Fatherland Front office at all levels.

In the near future, HCMC is going to launch several propaganda campaigns about noise pollution, along with tightening patrols to spot and strictly fine violators in accordance with current decrees. For example, Article 22 of Decree No.45/2022/ND-CP stipulates a warning fine of VND160 million and VND320 million ($6,500 and $13,000) to individuals and organizations breaking noise-related laws. The fine is proportional to the exceeding rate of technical standards on noise. Besides, there might be an additional penalty of temporarily stopping noise-creating activities from 3-6 months (individuals) or 6-12 months (organizations), depending on the violation level.

Deputy Head Tran Thi Thanh Ly of the Office for Building Civilized Lifestyle and Family (under the HCMC Department of Culture – Sports) mentioned a number of examinations of the inter-disciplinary state units to pinpoint people or organizations causing noise exceeding the technical standards according to Decree No.45/2022/ND-CP for punishment.

To effectively deal with noise pollution, neighborhoods are encouraged to assign members to monitor the noise level in their areas, especially in places formerly offending noise regulations, in order to promptly report to the local authorities or police stations for handling.

The HCMC Culture – Sports Department will also launch more propaganda schemes for observing noise regulations in residential areas via electronic advertising screens and public advertising media. In particular, it is possible to consider adding noise regulation obedience into the criteria for awarding local cultural titles.

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