August 13, 2016 12:12:35 am
The Bombay High Court Friday said the ‘casual approach’ of the government towards ‘an important issue like noise pollution’ has meant that police stations would not receive decibel meters to measure noise levels before Dahi Handi and Ganeshotsav.
The court in January had asked the government to procure the meters in accordance with the police’s requirements. Each police station is expected to use the meters, especially during major festivals, to ensure compliance with noise pollution rules.
The state government was supposed to have procured 1,843 meters in March this year, but is yet to issue tenders for them. “A letter has been tendered before us that 60 days will be required to supply such meters. In short, the meters will only be available by September-end, even though the court has been passing orders in this regard since 2014. We are shocked by the casual approach in dealing with such an important issue. The result is that during important festivals like Dahi Handi and Ganeshotsav, no meters will be available. This inaction has to be deprecated,” said the court.
The court also said that it proposed to issue directions to the state to carry out noise mapping in Mumbai.
The HC is hearing several petitions related to violation of noise norms and erection of illegal pandas. One such plea, filed by Ahwaz Foundation in 2007, emphasised the need for noise mapping.
“The submissions indicate that the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority had in-principle agreed to carry out noise mapping. We, therefore, propose to issue directions to the state to consider carrying out noise mapping and issue directions to planning authorities also. The Development Plan is still under consideration. While finalising the plan, certain sections of the Noise pollution rules will have to be complied with, especially since the Noise Pollution rules say that noise should be treated as a parameter for quality of life,” said Justice A S Oka.
The court also referred to Supreme Court orders that say that the power of exemption from noise pollution rules can be exercised by the government and cannot be delegated to anyone else. At present, the government grants relaxation for using loud speakers and public address systems between 10 pm and 12 am for 15 days, out of which it notifies 12 and the remaining three are decided by the district collector.
The Court also referred to various orders of the Supreme Court and other High Courts in relation to use of loudspeakers by religious institutions. Citing one such Supreme Court judgment, the court said the right to speech implies right to silence and right not to be disturbed. It further stated that no religion prescribes that prayer shall be conducted through loudspeakers .
The court also said that a silence zone is not a hospital, education institute, court etc., but is an area of about 100 m around it. If such buildings use of loudspeakers, they would have to obtain written permissions and ensure compliance with the specified ambient air quality standard in the area, the court said. The dictation of the orders will continue next Tuesday.
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