IN A bid to curb rising pollution levels in various cities of Maharashtra, the state government has directed municipal corporations and councils to set up a grievance redressal mechanism within their respective jurisdictions to register complaints pertaining to noise pollution.
Importantly, the state government has directed the civic bodies to take congnisance of each and every complaint, including anonymous ones.
In a government resolution (GR) issued by the Urban Development Department last month and uploaded on its website last week, the state government has asked the civic bodies to set up toll-free numbers to register complaints pertaining to noise pollution. “Arrangements should also be made to receive complaints on emails, whatsapp and SMSes. The complainant should be issued a complaint number,” the directive said.
The government resolution is in response to the Bombay High Court directives in August this year to the Maharashtra government to curb noise pollution due to religious festivities likes Ganeshotsav, vehicular traffic and construction activities in major cities. The court had also directed the government to ensure proper norms are in place. The HC had observed that the state government had failed to implement rules to curb noise pollution.
The GR states that before Ganeshotsav, Navratri and Dahi Handi celebrations, the district collector and municipal commissioners should hold a meeting with various mandals and inform them about the norms under the noise pollution rules. “Political leaders and mohalla committee members can also be called for the meeting if necessary,” the GR states.
The GR states that while allowing permission for setting up a helipad, the noise levels in that particular area should be considered.
The GR directs the officials to ensure that sound equipment is not employed without prior permissions of concerned departments. The GR mentions that for municipal corporation limits, the municipal commissioner will have the powers to take suitable action in case of violations and for council areas, the district collector will have the necessary power to act.
The UDD has asked the civic bodies to upload the respective websites and also update the district collectorates about it.
The HC directions had come on a PIL filed by Thane resident Mahesh Bedekar and others. The PIL had alleged violation of noise pollution rules and encroachment by pandals on roads during religious festivals.
The bench asked the Maharashtra government to inform within three months what steps it proposes to take to curb noise pollution in the state.
When contacted, PMC environment officer Mangesh Dighe said the civic body has already set up the grievance redressal system to register their complaints regarding noise pollution and forward them to the police for necessary action. “Citizens can upload their complaints on PMC website or on whatsapp like PMCcare or PMCconnect. A toll free number has also been provided on the official website,” he said. Dighe said the PMC website also displays mobile numbers of senior police officials of respective areas. “We do not upload the names of the complainants,” he said.
PCMC executive engineer Sanjay Kulkarni said the civic body has set up SARATHI helplines where the citizens can register their complaints regarding noise pollution. “The complaints will be forwarded to the police who take necessary action in the matter,” he said.
Advocate-activist Sachin Godambe said the August ruling by the HC is important to curb noise pollution. “The HC bench had asked the government to haul up officials who fail to take act after receiving complaints about violation of noise pollution rules. The HC had said that failure to take action will lead to violation of liberty enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution (Right to Equality).”
Advocate Sushil Mancharkar said the HC had also asked state government to ensure that quality of life and ambient air standard is maintained when civic bodies prepare their development plans.