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Peri-urbanization and noise exposure: a strategic study in quetta, Pakistan

*Moghira Badar
Department Of Environment Management And Policy, Balochistan University Of Information Technology, Engineering & Management Sciences (BUITEMS), Pakistan

*Corresponding Author:
Moghira Badar
Department Of Environment Management And Policy, Balochistan University Of Information Technology, Engineering & Management Sciences (BUITEMS), Pakistan

Published on: 2020-03-10


Peri-Urbanization and higher noise exposure plays a crucial role on physical and mental health of the area residents. The paper uses mix methods approach to analyse the impact of noises exposure in Peri-Urban settlements in Quetta city. The noise level ratings gathered over a period of nine months are combined with social survey data and analyzed for deducing results. The results shows that overall population of the district has increased quite rapidly showing substantial increase rate of 437.91% during the last 67 years. Vehicular density increases by five-fold in the last decade. Recorded noise levels ranges from 60.3 to 110.5 dBA in Peri-Urban areas. The survey indicates in Peri-Urbanization areas, the increased noise levels had a multifaceted impacts on the area residents. Deteriorating health situation faced by the residents include sleep disturbance, headache, cardiovascular system, hearing loss, stress, anxiety, depression due to which resident’s tolerance level also dropped. Noise is also the cause of aggression that creates unpleasant social behavior and poor work performance. The paper concluded that the noise related symptoms are results of improper planning, traffic congestion, lack of awareness and ignorance. The paper finally recommends policy directions by giving a “Garden vista Conurbation” program for its management.


Peri-Urbanization; “Garden vista Conurbation”; Environmental; Planning; Social Noise Impacts; Sustainable City Development; Noise Planning and Policy


Physical environment is the most important determinant of good health and consequently, protection of the environment and preservation of ecosystems are fundamental in the struggle against human illnesses. Existing evidence suggests that the most serious potential consequence of global environmental change is the decimation of the earth’s life-support systems [1]. Environmental factors such as rapid industrial growth, the population explosion, resource depletion, alteration of the chemical composition of the atmosphere and the cycling of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous are responsible for altering the basic physiology of the earth. Environmental health decisions are associated with a country’s political, historical and economic features, and have impact on human health [2]. The problem of noise pollution in Peri-Urbanization settlements are one of the global issues which is not given proper substantial attention and placed in the bottom line of environmental pollutions series but it had dire heath consequences and its impacts are more felt in developing cities of third world.

Peri-Urbanization and Noise

Innovations in the modern technology and communication system have resulted in the new settlement system all over the world [3]. In developing world the urban settlement factor had increased manifolds within the last few decades. Zones of intense economic activity have emerged in the intersection between cities and rural areas that are neither count urban nor rural in the traditional sense although they contain the essential properties of both. These settlements are called PeriUrbanization. Environmental noise pollution is the product of human settlement patterns and activities. In Peri-Urbanization settlements the noise produced due to multiple factors such as increasing population, unplanned industrialization and increasing transportation factors etc. Exposure to noise pollution have become an in-escapable part of the residents living in Peri-Urbans settlements [4]. The rate at which these Peri-Urban centers are growing in absence of pollution control measures, it can deteriorate the health and working performance of the general public [5].

In Pakistan the problem of Peri-Urbanization and noise pollution is widespread. Previous studies indicate that due to Peri-Urbanizations every big and small city was affected and noise pollution levels exceeded the permissible limits of WHO guidelines in every city of Pakistan. In Pakistan there is no specific laws dealing with the Peri-Urbanization and Noise. 

Peri-Urbanization In Quetta City

Quetta valley lies between 66015/ 00// to 670 15/ 00// Easting and 300 00/ 00// to 300 25/ 00// Northing in the survey of Pakistan Topo-sheets 34 N/3 & 4 and 34 J/15 & 16. The main valley of Quetta or Shal proper (comprising an area of 1720 sq. km), which unites the two sides at the toe of the horse-shoe, is a parallelogram about sixteen miles by eight. The general character of the district is mountainous. Quetta was designed for 70,000 inhabitants and people remember the city for its cleanliness, proper sewage system, broad roads, play grounds and good schools. The city is surrounded by gardens, green areas and orchards. The growth of the city remained controlled even after formation of Pakistan (1947) [6]. However, after 1970 when Quetta became the provisional metropolis, creation of new social and economic activities in public and private sectors brought exodus of setters and rural population, resulting in fast Peri-Urbanization Settlements. The situation gets worse after the Afghan War, Quetta became a magnet for millions of Afghan refugees fleeing the invasion of USSR in 1979. The growth was so rapid that it was like stampede. The needy populace occupied private and government lands and as a result in Quetta city there develops large PeriUrbanization Settlements. Overall population of the district has increased quite rapidly showing substantial of 437.91 percent during the last 67 years [7] (Government of Pakistan, 2017). The population of the Quetta city is declared in 2017 censes was 1001,205. But recent unofficial statistic shows that the population of Quetta city is more than 1,500,000 due to the settlers coming from different parts of other countries (Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Central Asian Countries etc.) and residing in the surrounding and skirts. These peoples are not covered in the national censes of 2017. The table-1 shows that urban growth rate of Quetta city. 
Table 1: Urban Growth of Quetta City Source: Government of Pakistan, 2017.

Year  Population  Year  Population
1877 4,000 1951 52,209
1891 11,302 1961 142,070
1901 13,517 1972 252,380
1908 24,129 1981 381,570
1921 49,001 1998 759,940
1941 36,460 (earthquake in 1935) 2017 1,001,205

The registered vehicular density was 496640 [8, 9]; which was 99320 in 2004, further there are 200,000 vehicles with registration in other provinces are also seeing on the roads of Quetta City. Beside that more than 100,000 unregistered vehicles also plying on the roads of Quetta City. Mostly the owners of these unregistered vehicles are the residents living in the Peri-Urban Settlements. Table-2 shows the growth of vehicles in Quetta City.
Table 2: Registered Vehicles in Quetta City Source: compile by data from Excise Department, Government of Balochistan, 2018.

Year Registered Vehicles Year  Registered Vehicles
2004 99,320 2012 210,791
2005 -------- 2013 243,380
2006 -------- 2014 268,446
2007 108,070 2015 303,810
2008 121,233 2016 328,718
2009 144,521 2017 345,054
2010 178,199 2018 496,640
2011 191,257    


Purpose of the Study

This study is carried out by using scientific investigation methods to develop a greater understanding how rapid PeriUrbanization Settlements and noise pollution have impact on residing communities in Quetta city. The study monitors the Peri-Urbanization Settlements and noise pollution status in Quetta city by collecting data and look for possible remedial measures to control noise pollution in Peri-Urbanization Settlements.


This empirical study was conducted in Quetta city, Pakistan. First data was collected by an automatic calibrated noise level analyzer at the three prime locations in Quetta City in 2014. After that a random survey was conducted via questionnaire and semi structured personal interviews were devised to include individual perceptions on annoyance in relation to different kind of noises in different areas of Peri-Urbanization. Approximately 450 questionnaires were distributed to the people residing in different localities of PeriUrbanization and 400 people responded to the questionnaire.
The 50 questionnaires were eliminated because they were found incomplete. Semi structured interviews were also conducted to the respondents of the questionnaires. Quetta was chosen for the study because it is one of the growing populous cities in Pakistan and facing fast Peri-Urbanization. Further it reflects both the modern and traditional, infrastructure (roads, localities, buildings etc.) and population of Quetta city exhibits different types of cultures.
The random sample of the residing communities in Peri-Urbanization comprises of government servants that include section officers (male-20, female-04), deputy secretary (16), clerks, peon, and class four servant (40 numbers), policemen (16 numbers), other people responded are judge (04), bankers (male-12, female-08), university professors / college professors / school teachers (male-48, female-56 numbers), house wives (40 number), students (male-24, female-16), shop keepers (48 numbers) and paddlers/ cart men (48 numbers) that include hand cart men carrying load, donkey cart men, fruit and vegetable sellers etc. Therefore the sample comprises of 276 males and 124 women. The descriptive statistics of the respondents are given in Table 3.
Table 3: Descriptive Statistics of respondents: source compiled.

Category Gender Total
Male Count Female Count
Age Respondent 18-25 96 32 128
26-45 64 56 120
=<46 116 36 152
Occupation Govt. Sector 156 68 224
Business Sector 96 - 96
House wives    40 40
Students 24 16 40
Qualification Illiterate 76 12 88
Metric 76 36 112
Bachelor & above 124 76 200
Marital Status Single 116 56 172
Married 160 68 228

The sample represents a cross-section of different age groups, sex, geography, educational levels; income levels of respondents and therefore it could be treated as a representative sample for such an exploratory study. The analysis has been carried out with the help of percentages and cross-classifications on sources of noise, effects of noise, responses to noise, and suggest strategic directions and remedies to control noise for Peri-Urbanization.

Results From Automatic Analyzer

In Quetta city, the three prime locations are selected for the collection of noise data. The XL2 Analyzer machine was used to monitor the noise levels in Quetta. The XL2 forms the unique combination of a state-of-the-art Sound Level Meter, a comprehensive Acoustic Analyzer as well as a powerful Audio Analyzer. The instrument is properly calibrated. The day time for which the noise levels are recorded from 6 AM to 8 PM and for the night time the 8 PM to 6 AM. Data was collected for seven days (twenty four hours) at each site at an interval of 15 min and repeated that cycle continuously for the nine months after that minimum and maximum average at day time and night time in each season were calculated. The results from the automatic analyser are given in the Table 4.
Table4: Noise level in dBA of Quetta city: source compiled.

Sites   Level in June-July Level in Oct-Nov Level in Jan-Feb Ave
Min Max Min Max Min Max  
Site-1 Day 79.6 82.1 82.2 84.4 79.5 82 81.63
Jinnah Road (Commercial Area) Night 62.4 67.5 63.2 68.9 64.9 70 66.15
Site-2 Day 78.6 80.9 80.4 83.3 70.3 81.9 79.23
Satellite Town (Residential Area) Night 62.6 65.4 63.2 68.9 60.3 77.3 66.28
Site-3 Day 78.4 85.2 79.2 87.5 66.7 80.9 79.65
Sirki Road (Industrial Area) Night 63.4 67.8 65.9 67.3 60.5 67.9 65.46

Results From Survey

Survey analysis of the residents of Peri-Urbanization and personal interview reveal that traffic noise exposure by sudden blown of horn/ whistle caused dissatisfaction among 51%, the other sound according to survey is generated by water tractor/ truck, it cause dissatisfaction among 36% population, ice cream paddlers 31%. Domestic noises which include light work at home, home appliances, children voices, adult voices, radio, music system and T.V. caused 28% annoyance among people. Train and aircraft created 21% and 14% disturbances ratios respectively as shown in the Figure1.


Figure 1: Noise disturbances ratios in Quetta City, Source compiled.

Table 5 shows the noise effect in terms of age group and table-6 present percentage of respondents affected by different sources of noise gender wise. There is a marked difference in population affected by noise. Respondents more than 46 years old are more sensitive to noise than youngsters. Women are more affected by traffic horns and domestic noises over the men population. In terms of remaining sources, there is no marked difference found in percentage of male and female population; the sources of noise affect both male as well as female population.
Table 5: Effects of noise in Peri-Urban areas in terms of age groups: source compiled.

Sources of Noise Age group Percentage
18-25 26-45 >46
Traffic Horn  52(25.5%) 48 (23.52%) 104 (50.98%) -51%
Water tractor/ truck  40 (27.8%) 52 (36.10%) 52(36.1%) -36%
Ice cream paddlers  20 (16.14%) 40(32.26%) 64(51.6%) -31%
Domestic noises  12(10.71%) 40(35.71%) 60(53.57%) -28%
Train and created  12(14.28%) 40(47.62%) 32(38.09%) -21%
Aircraft  04 (7.14%) 20(35.71%) 32(57.14%) -14%
Total respondents 128 120 152  

Table 6:
Sources of noise affecting male and female respondents: source compiled.

  Gender %
Male Female Male Female Male Female
Age group 18-25 26-45 >46  
Traffic Horn  36(17.64%) 16(7.86%) 20(9.80%) 28(13.73%) 72(35.29%) 32(15.68%) 51%
Water tractor/ truck  96(16.66%) 64(11.11%) 28(19.45%) 20(13.89%) 28(19.44%) 20(13.88%) 36%
Ice cream paddlers  48(9.68%) 08(6.45%) 96(19.35%) 64(12.90%) 40(32.26%) 24(19.35%) 31%
Domestic noises  04(3.57%) 08(7.14%) 12(10.71%) 28(25.00%) 28(25.00%) 32(28.57%) 28%
Train and created  12(14.28%) 0(0.00%) 24(28.57%) 16(19.05%) 20(23.81%) 12(14.28%) 21%
Aircraft  04(7.14%) 0(0.00%) 12(21.43%) 08(14.28%) 16(28.57%) 16(28.57%) 14%
Total Respondents 128 120 152  


Discussion and Analysis

The average noise levels recorded in Peri-Urban Settlements at day time was 80.02 dBA, which is very high as compared by the standard given by WHO i.e. 55 dBA. At night time the average noise level was 66.04 dBA recorded; which is also very high according to the standards of WHO i.e. 45 dBA. The contribution of transport sector in noise generation is of vital importance in Peri-Urbanization Settlements due to heavy influx of vehicles (more than 200,000 vehicles). The major source of annoyance due to traffic noise was sudden blown of vehicles horns at day or night time. The average levels of noise generated by these horns ranged from 110-130 dBA. 51% of the respondents complain that they cannot bear the blown of horn’s noise. People residing near the highways or road sides were more affected and 39% of the respondents complain that they loss their temper and 8% of them have headache on hearing the pressure horn. Other factors responsible for traffic noise generation in Peri-Urbanization areas were poor maintenances of engines, high loading factors, improper fuel, lube mixture, sub-standard silencers and the use of smuggled oil/petrol/ diesel in both light and heavy vehicles (The smuggled fuels are of low standard and have high Sulphur /Lead contents) [10-11]. Beside that most of the garages are situated in these Peri-Urban areas; where imported and smuggled engines (diesel and petrol) from Japan and other European countrieswhose economically useful life were over were rebuilt/overhaul or reconditioned in these garages. These types of vehicles generate more noise due to imperfect overhauling and low technological availability. Factors such as narrow roads, traffic congestion and mixing of motorized and non-motorized mode of transport are also responsible in creation of noise pollution in Peri-Urban environment. In Peri-Urban areas of Quetta there are thousands of hand carts, donkey carts, horse carts plying on roads and they do not observe strict traffic laws and when they mix within the traffic, they create frequent traffic jams. In frequent traffic jams, the drivers blow the horns unnecessary and create environmental noise and generate dissatisfaction among the residents of Peri-Urban areas. The insufficient and non-effective noise control measures and poor law and order condition also aggravated this situation [12-13] .
Peri-Urban Settlements faces acute water scarcity due to low rains in these regions and the mismanagement of government’s water supply agency. The water is supplied in these area with privately owned water tractors. The tractors are install with water tank and run by a motor and diesel generator. These tractors have bad silencers and produces noise level between 100 dBA to 128 dBA. The noise produced from these heavy water tractors have different acoustical character, mostly in the low frequency spectrum. The effect of window/ doors attenuation at low frequencies, will produced proportionally higher noise levels indoor from these water tractors. 36% of the people in Peri-Urban are annoyed by the water tractor noise. 28% of the people have headache on hearing the tractor sound. While filling of underground or overhead water tank at home or in offices the speech conversation of 80% of the people are badly affected. The interference with the speech’s effect is more observed in children than with older people. Disruptions in speech conversation lead to increased annoyance and anxiety, and as a result may indirectly contribute to physiological complications such as the non-auditory physiological effects[14-15]. 
The survey indicates that the impact of noise on our dayto-day lives depends on a number of aspects such as intensity, frequency, duration and time of day etc. The study also shows significant variations in the people perception to react with noises. The survey indicates that effect of noise is felt by the educated people more than uneducated people. Immediate responses are noticed and given by educated persons towards noise menace. Almost 90% responded of educated pupil are annoyed by noise pollution and complain about it. The 60% of the respondents complained about the loss of concentration from work or roaming outside or busy at work at home when they heard the noise. The educated people at the age between 30 to 55 feels more and react to noise producing vehicles in the shape of making faces or quarrel and fight. The 80% young people below twenties do not care much about the effect of noise. The 87% females (educated /uneducated) are more sensitive towards the noise. The working females are more annoyed toward noise than males and show frequent reactions, when they heard the noise especially traffic horns [16-17].
The uneducated populaces of Peri-Urban such as cartman (horse/donkey drivers), vegetable and fruits-seller, shopkeepers, labor, daily-wagers and those working at roadside or working outside the office etc. take noise as a portion of routine life work and does not bothered about it. Especially, people residing in commercial, industrial or near road sides with heavy traffic plying, the residents/ habitants became use to of these types of noises and these noises are normal noises to them in their life. The annoyance ratio toward noise is very low, about 80% does not pay any attention toward high noise levels of noises. But at the end of the day, these persons complain different symptoms such as headache or tiredness, emotion disturbance, stomach problems etc. but don’t know the causes which affect them [18-19]. It is further observed that higher levels of noise develop the habit of talking loudly between them especially in the area where the exposures of noise level is very high. 68% residing in these areas have the habit of talking loudly further 35% reported and have hearing problems. The study also showed that 35% of the respondents complained about deterioration and change in mood and higher frequency of other symptoms such as tiredness; headache and nervous stomach problems due to noise. The police men performing duty in busy roads sides complain about extreme headache and emotional disturbance at the end of the day [20].

Strategic Recommendations for Peri-Urbanization & Noise Reduction

In Quetta the growth had been unplanned and haphazard resulting in Peri-Urbanization. To solve the management and noise problems in Peri-Urbanization settlements the concept of “Garden vista Conurbation” will be devised. “Garden vista Conurbation” suggests strategic directions for PeriUrbanization and noise exposure management that will be useful in designing the future sustainable cities policies. The “Garden vista Conurbation” have the following properties:

• The planning approach starts form designing “Garden vista Conurbation” by demographic data predictions which identify Peri-Urbanization Corridors. Based on demographic and social predictions the directive planning for “Garden vista Conurbation” in Peri-Urbanization settlements can be devised. The plan protect the natural resource bases including agricultural land, landscapes and environmental features, and are strongly influenced by limitations on water availability.
• The planning approach for “Garden vista Conurbation” should be based on building codes. The buildings blocks constructed without rules & regulations and total absence of squares, green areas, parks and gardens should be demolished. The unauthorized interventions on buildings and on public spaces caused a tightening of services roads and the increase in the noises of the city. Therefore the building codes must be applied or if they have any they short come should be modified according to the new situations.
• As Quetta lies in semi-arid zones and outside the monsoon range therefore there occur acute water scarcity problems in Quetta city. “Garden vista Conurbation” offer garden and green areas in their planning stages and gave special emphasis on plantation of such trees that require less water having broader leaves. “Garden vista Conurbation” promote concept of public participation in generating green areas. Green Areas will give beautiful look to the Peri-Urban Areas and enhanced ascetic sense within people by reducing noises levels; further it will reduce tension among the general public.
• In Quetta city and especially in Peri-Urban Areas celebrations and festivities mean escalation of noise. Firing by automatic heavy guns (such as AK-47 etc.), fire crackers, cumulative impact of powerful music systems and loudspeakers which reverberate through crowded housing colonies, add noises pressure in the vicinity. “Garden vista Conurbation” promote peace and security through law and legislations. Strict legislations are applied in “Garden vista Conurbation” where noise production is ban or at least minimized at social and religious functions. “Garden vista Conurbation” create special spots where people can make noise and organize their functions. These special spots are far from the residential or silence zone areas.


The world’s population is dramatically shifted in cities and other urban conglomerations resulting in Peri-Urbanizations and as a result noise levels in these overcrowded areas are increasing. The study’s results show that the population living in these rapidly growing Peri-Urbanizations areas are facing a deterioration of natural balance in their living environment. The increased noise levels had a multifaceted impact on the area residents. The influence included from change in mood at the lower end to increased occurrence of other health symptoms such as tiredness, headache, improper communication, sleeplessness. The psycho-somatic effects (annoyance and depression) are also common in the Peri-Urbanizations. As the study find out that many of the noise related problems are generated due to the lack of awareness and ignorance of the people and can be controlled or at least their effects can be minimized by giving the communities proper education and training. Ignorance causes frustration and other psychological disorders and drops the tolerance level; with education the public tolerance and annoyance factors may be reduced to minimum.


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