A study conducted by the Department of the Environment in 2017 found that the average sound level in busy areas such as Farmgate, Karwan Bazar, Shahbagh, Gabtoli and Mohakhali Bus Terminal is around 80-110dB, which is twice the acceptable level
While rushing to office or anywhere else, your eyes may be drawn to a lone man with a yellow placard in his hand standing near a traffic light.
The slogan says- 'Horn Hudai, Bajay Bhudai' meaning 'Only an idiot honks unnecessarily.'
Mominur Rahman Royal, an artist by profession, stands at different busy intersections every day for a few minutes to make people aware of the pointless noise produced by honking.
"Our city is becoming more and more unliveable every day. With so many arrangements to make the situation worse, unnecessary honking by cars and other vehicles has added more disturbance in our life", said Royal.
After graduating in Fine Arts from the University of Development Alternative (UODA) in 2012, Royal's search for a quiet place to work made him realise how bad things are.
"I need a calm and quiet place to work as an artist, but that is almost impossible here. I noticed that the greatest disruption to the peace is by excessive honking," said this activist.
37-year-old Royal isn't just thinking about the well-being of the people around him, he is also dreaming about a better city for the next generation.
This activist said, "After becoming a father I realised how this noise, especially the honking, affects our children. We should try to make the world liveable for them."
Royal first started his anti-honking campaign in 2014 by opening a Facebook group to spread his slogan. In spite of a good response on social media, he realised that it is important to be physically present in front of people to get the message through.
He thinks that verbal communication between people has been greatly hampered because of this noise. He decided to use silence to make people aware of this problem, even if some of them think his slogan is insulting.
He started his campaign on a sunny day by standing with his placard in front of the Bangladesh Eye Hospital in the Dhanmondi area of Dhaka City. He became popular from the very first day.
Through an app in his cell phone, Royal measures the level of ambient sound while campaigning. He moves away when he finds that the ambient sound level is around 65dB.
"In the beginning, some people used to mock me by saying that one person can't change anything, but I didn't feel bad because the number of people who realise the problem and support my campaign are much more than the ones who insult me," said this graphics designer.
Besides appreciating what he is doing, some pedestrians even stop and stand beside him for a while.
Royal appreciates the fact that his initiative is being taken up by enthusiasts in many parts of the country, thus spreading awareness.
Many people think that his use of the word 'Bhudai' (meaning stupid) to describe honkers is insulting. But working in the advertising industry, Royal is very clear about his notion, "I wanted to attract peoples' attention by using the very connotations that they use regularly. And it works!"
Royal thinks that drivers should feel ashamed about honking needlessly.
Royal himself has gone over 5,000 km on his motorcycle in Dhaka without honking even once.
A study conducted by the Department of the Environment in 2017 found that the average sound level in busy areas such as Farmgate, Karwan Bazar, Shahbagh, Gabtoli and Mohakhali Bus Terminal is around 80-110dB, which is twice the acceptable level.
At Shyamoli, one of the busiest areas of the city, the study counted 598 horn toots in 10 minutes. Among them 168 were hydraulic and 440 were general. Nine percent of the people in Dhaka city have health issues caused by ambient noise.
While WHO has fixed up to 70 decibels as the tolerable sound limit in residential, commercial and mixed areas, the level exceeds 135 decibels in Farmgate area according to the DoE study.
Despite the enactment of Sound Pollution Control Law 2006, a survey found that the largest portion of the population is not aware of it.
In this situation, Royal's anti-honking protest is addressing the problem of hearing, one of many health hazards associated with noise pollution.
Royal has self-financed his campaign from the very beginning, starting with Tk20,000 for making banners, stickers, placards etc.
He encourages people to carry out similar campaigns against noise and environmental pollution in all parts of the country.
In weekends, Royal spends at least one hour standing with his placard to make people aware of the problem. In his office bag he always carries stickers and placard. He plans to continue doing this until he sees visible change for the better.
"Putting a stop to honking can make a big difference in making this city liveable. It is our duty to do this through such activities," said Royal.