High Court fixes responsibility for ‘silence zones’

The Bombay High Court on Thursday asked the Municipal Corporation,Commissioner of Police,Maharashtra Pollution Control Board and the state government to hold a meeting and chalk out a notification to identify ‘silence zones’ in the city.

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai | Published: February 27, 2009 2:02 am

The Bombay High Court on Thursday asked the Municipal Corporation,Commissioner of Police,Maharashtra Pollution Control Board and the state government to hold a meeting and chalk out a notification to identify ‘silence zones’ in the city.

The division bench of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice D Y Chandrachud also directed the Principal Secretary (Home) to chair the meeting and initiate the notification within one week.

The meeting will have to identify locations where a ‘silence zone’ needs to be created. The noise pollution regulation issued by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest requires creation of such zones around hospitals,religious places and schools among other places.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by NGO Awaaz Foundation alleging that the authorities had failed to control noise pollution in the city. The petitioner complained that no such zones have been identified in Mumbai so far even after the regualtions came in the year 2000.

Petitioner’s counsel Darais Khambata told the High Court that in August 2008 Chief Secretary had held a meeting of the corporation and state officials and directed the corporation to declare the silence zones.

Interestingly,upon the court’s query,corporation lawyer said that ‘boards’ to declare certain areas as ‘silence zones’ are being prepared. The court questioned on how could boards be prepared when the notification is yet to be issued.

The court further seeks information on what equipment has been provided to check noise levels especially during elections.

The court observed that various authorities like the MPCB were shifting burdens on each other to shirk responsibility. The court observed that various orders have been passed earlier and the Chief Secretary himself had taken a decision in August 2008.

“However,relevant part of the decisions remain on paper even after six months,” Chief Justice Kumar observed. The court said that holding meetings are not the object but implementing it on the field should be the government’s aim.

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