The Uttar Pradesh government has banned the unauthorised use of loudspeakers and public address systems at religious and public places across the state. Setting January 15 as the deadline for obtaining permission, the government has warned that all such loudspeakers will be removed by January 20.
The move comes after the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court, on December 20, asked the state government whether written permission was obtained from the concerned authorities before loudspeakers or public address systems were installed at religious places like mosques, temples, churches and gurdwaras.
In a 10-page order dated January 4, addressed to all district magistrates, senior superintendents of police and superintendents of police, State Principal Secretary (Home) Arvind Kumar has asked them to form teams, comprising revenue and police officials in their respective districts, to identify religious and public places where unauthorised loudspeakers and public address systems are being used.
“The direction also requires managers of religious and public places to obtain permission for putting up loudspeakers or any public address system before January 15. If they fail to do so, they will face action under the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000,” said UP’s Secretary (Home) Bhagwan Swaroop.
The government has also directed action against the concerned authorities (government officials) who fail to ensure compliance.
Swaroop said each district will be categorised into industrial, commercial, residential and silence zones. Each area has separate maximum limits for permissible sound levels.
The loudspeakers installed in public places cannot have sound level more than 10 decibels above ambient noise level at the periphery of a public place and 5 decibels above ambient noise level at the periphery of a private place, according to officials.
All district officials have also been asked to ensure that the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 are followed during all processions and marriage functions. The district magistrates have been told to give information on the action taken in case the rules are flouted.
“We have directed all district magistrates, senior superintendents of police and superintendents of police to file the report by January 22,” said Swaroop.
On December 20, while hearing a PIL filed by advocate Moti Lal Yadav, a divisional bench of Justices Vikram Nath and Abdul Moin asked whether written permission had been obtained for all loudspeakers installed at religious structures and other public places. The court also asked what action had been taken for removal of loudspeakers if permission had not been obtained, and how many loudspeakers and public address systems had been dismantled and removed from religious structures and other buildings.
The court had directed the Principal Secretary (Home) and Chairman, State Pollution Control Board, to file separate personal affidavits within six weeks explaining the steps taken to enforce the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000. The court said if the affidavits were not filed within this time, both officials would have to appear in person before the court.
The court had also asked what action had been taken against officials who had failed to ensure compliance. The next date of hearing is February 1.