Carry on the clamour

The government is coaxed by Maharashtra MLAs to relax noise rules

 
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

the Maharashtra government has tried to dilute the Noise Pollution (regulation and control) Rules 2000 to ensure that the Navratri mandals continue with their night-long revelry and music. This, the state government strived to achieve by making use of a loophole in the noise rules. The Maharashtra government sent two members of legislative assembly (mla) to put pressure on home minister L K Advani and environment minister T R Baalu to allow the use of loudspeakers during the night. The ministers yielded. And with reasons as illogical as "dancing being good for health" the mla's managed to get a permission to use loudspeakers beyond 10 pm.

Earlier, on the recommendations made by the Supreme Court (sc), the central government had formulated the noise pollution rules, which prohibited the use of loud speakers after 10 pm. The rules had been formulated to safeguard people from health hazards.

The sc order said "use of loudspeakers could be permitted in closed premises, such as auditoria, conference rooms and community halls". The Maharashtra government found this rule handy to skirt and coaxed the Union government to throw the onus on the state to decide which was a closed premises and which was not. After intense lobbying, the mla's also got a letter to this effect.

Rajeev Dhavan, director, Public Interest Legal Support and Research Centre, New Delhi, says, "This letter severely dilutes the actual noise pollution rules and makes a mockery of the law."

But D K Biswas, chairperson, Central Pollution Control Board, New Delhi, believes that the letter does not go against the sc order and it has asked to use the provisions already present in the law. Ecohing him, Sudhir Badami of Badami Engineering Systems Consultants says that Biswas would not have gone beyond the spirit and contents of the noise rules but mla's may like to interpret it to their convenience.

On the other hand, Debi Goenka of Bombay Environmental Action Group, informs that the state advocate general had stated that 'pandals' could be considered as 'enclosed spaces' but when asked to give a written opinion to this effect, he decided not to do so.

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