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Wee-hour Drive Ban Sought to End Sleepless Nights
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Shanghai should ban early morning traffic on elevated roads near densely populated residential areas to prevent noise pollution and allow residents to get a good night's sleep, a representative to the Shanghai People's Congress (SPC) proposed yesterday.


"Noise pollution has become the biggest nuisance for local people," said Zhou Qingjiang, an SPC delegate and a Minhang District environmental official.


Zhou submitted a bill calling for stronger noise control laws to the ongoing session of the city's legislature.


The official noted in his bill that more than 40 percent of the city's environmentally related residential complaints since 2002 involved noise pollution.


He said an increasing number of residential complexes, mostly high-rises, are being built in the downtown, and many are located close to an elevated road. Noise levels in these areas average more than 70 decibels, which is equivalent to the sound of a busy industrial plant.


"I feel I live beside a factory that keeps working 24 hours a day," said Chen Junsheng, a Malaysian businessman who lives along the Inner Ring Road, the city's earliest elevated road.


Environmental experts suggest residential noise levels should not exceed 60 decibels. Hearing and emotional problems can be created by noises above that point. Shanghai has about 4,000 buildings above 18 stories. Residents living in many of the buildings don't have protection against the noise produced by fast-moving vehicles on elevated roads.


In addition to the early morning driving ban, Zhou's proposal also urged law makers to force the government to install noise-insulation screens outside all residential complexes that are close to elevated roads or rail systems. "The government should also ban and severely punish horn honking in some areas."


He Heyong, a member of the Standing Committee of Shanghai People's Congress, said it would be difficult to ban driving on the city's highways, but it would be prudent to do more to outlaw horn honking while people are sleeping.


He also noted that the government is helping many building owners finance double-glazed windows to block noise.


(Shanghai Daily January 31, 2007)

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