Vociferous protest

Stiff opposition to recent amendment in noise rules

Published: Friday 31 January 2003

The Union ministry of environment and forests (mef) has amended the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000. The amendment, quietly passed on October 11, 2002, permits the use of loudspeakers and microphones till midnight for 15 days every year. The earlier time limit for the use of public address systems was 10 pm. Since there are no specific guidelines for granting permission, experts fear misuse.

The Forum for Prevention of Sound and Environmental Pollution, an Alleppey-based non-governmental organisation (ngo), has filed a petition in the High Court of Kerala challenging the revision. And two other ngos -- the Goa Environment Federation and Mumbai's Anti-Noise Pollution Committee (anpc) -- plan to follow suit.

"We did not know about the amendment as it was not open for public discussion," alleges Norma Alvares, a lawyer representing the Goan ngo. Significantly, though states are responsible for deciding the days when the time limit can be extended, none of them have taken a decision on it so far. "Till this happens, the time limit can be relaxed on any day," points out Alvares.

According to C Viswanath, joint secretary, mef, the amendment was made at the behest of state representatives. Several state governments such as those of Goa and Maharashtra have been seeking a relaxation in the noise rules. "They were lobbying for it because a lot of revenue is generated during festivals," feels Sudhir Badami, who had sent a letter to Union minister for environment and forests T R Baalu after the mef announced its decision.

The amendment has further lowered the morale of those campaigning against noise pollution.

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