The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) to conduct a joint inspection to see if mosques in east Delhi are exceeding decibel levels and contributing to noise pollution.
The bench, headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, directed “the CPCB and the DPCC to conduct a joint inspection on a random basis at intervals to ascertain whether there is violation of law and, if so, take penal action. In terms of legal provisions, CPCB will be the nodal agency.”
The plea was submitted by the Akhand Bharat Morcha, alleging that illegal use of loudspeakers at mosques in east Delhi was adversely affecting health of residents. The plea had alleged that activities of some mosques were in violation of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, and the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000. It added that authorities had not taken any action despite several complaints.
It had also claimed that these places of worship were located in silent zones housing schools and hospitals, and noise from loudspeakers surpassed the laid down decibel levels.
The Akhand Bharat Morcha was formed in 1998 by Baikunth Lal Sharma, a former BJP lawmaker from east Delhi. On April 1 this year, a bike rally to mark Hanuman Jayanti was marred by at least four incidents of hooliganism outside four mosques in east Delhi and Shahdara, with some members of the procession allegedly brandishing swords, lighting firecrackers, throwing colour and planting saffron flags near the religious structures. At the time, Additional DCP (east) Jasmeet Singh had told The Indian Express that the ‘Bajrang Shakti Rally’ had been organised by the organisation.
On Saturday, police said that no arrests had been made in the case and the matter had been solved by the two communities.
The organisation approached the Deputy Commissioner of Police (east) in a letter on February 2016, but claimed “no action was taken”, the NGT order said. It added that the organisation approached the NGT, which disposed of the case on September 19, 2017, after the Delhi government and DPCC said they “will conduct inspection to check the noise level from different masjids mentioned in the application and if the noise levels are found to be exceeding the prescribed decibel, action would be taken”. Following this, the organisation filed a civil appeal in Supreme Court with the “grievance that the inspection has not been done in spite of order of NGT”. The appeal was disposed of earlier this year, with the observation that the applicant could approach the NGT for compliance of the directions already issued.
“In view of the above, we direct the Deputy Commissioner of Police (east) to take steps for compliance of the order,” said the bench, adding that the compliance report has to be submitted within two months. However, police said they haven’t received any order from the Tribunal yet.