HC asks Centre to give views on noise pollution rules

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The Bombay High Court asked the Centre to give its views pertaining to interpretation of noise pollution rules next week.

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A bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka was hearing a bunch of PILs filed by Dr. Mahesh Bedekar and others raising concern over nuisance created by organisers of religious festivals with regard to noise pollution and erection of mandaps and pandals (makeshift structures) on streets and footpaths.

The Maharashtra government submitted that Noise Pollution Rules framed in 2000 would have been interpreted harmoniously especially 5 and 6 which deal with written permission to use loudspeakers or public address system in a public place within the permitted decibel limits. This restriction is applicable to areas within silence zones.

However, this restriction would not be applicable to theatres or cinema hall or any closed premises though use of loudspeakers in such areas require a licence, government pleader Abhinandan Vagyani told the court.

If this rule is interpreted to mean that legislature intended to completely ban loudspeakers or public address system in a silence zone whether in a closed place or in an open area, then it would lead to a situation that all cinema halls within the silence zone would have to close down, Vagyani argued.

On last occasion, Vagyani said the state had placed an order to procure 1,843 noise meters and 50 per cent of this equipment was to be purchased by July-end and the rest in August.

During an earlier hearing, the high court, while citing a Supreme Court judgement, had observed that the fundamental right of practising or professing religion did not extend to “any and every place”.

It had said while the civic bodies can grant permission for construction of temporary pandals during festivals like Ganpati or Navratri, these structures should not be erected on public roads and pavements.

The high court had observed in March last year that every citizen has a fundamental right to silence and to live in peace and comfort and the same cannot be disturbed by organisers celebrating various religious festivals.