August 23, 2017 5:30:44 am
The state government Tuesday informed the Bombay HC that as of now, there were no “deemed silence zones” in the state, with the Centre recently amending the Noise Pollution Rules of 2000. The state will now carry out a fresh exercise to declare certain areas as silence zones.
Pointing out that the earlier rules and court orders regarding noise pollution were unworkable owing to a wide definition of what areas were covered in silence zones, Advocate General A Kumbhakoni said the amendment would help make the system more workable.
“If we go by the earlier definition of educational institutions or hospital area, every inch in a city like Mumbai will be a silence zone. If the judgment of the court is adhered to in a city like Mumbai, a space where an idol is placed will be a religious space and will therefore be a silence zone. We need to iron out the creases. There is no deemed silence zone as of now,” he added.
The High Court asked why the Maharashtra government was so keen on people using loudspeakers in the state. A division bench of Justices A S Oka and Riyaz Chagla were hearing a petition relating to noise pollution rules. The court was informed that pursuant to the amendment to the noise pollution rules of 2000, all areas declared as silence zones in the past stand de-notified.
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The AG said lack of silence zones during the transitional phase did not mean the government would allow loudspeakers near hospitals etc. “When we give permissions for loudspeakers we will ensure decibel levels are maintained,” he said. The HC, in its 2016 order, had said an area of not less than 100 metres around hospitals, educational institutions and courts constitutes a silence zone.
“Why is the state government so agitated that someone is not permitted to use loudspeakers? Why is the government so keen to permit use of loudspeakers?” said Justice Oka. The court was also told that the 1500 silence zones earlier identified by the court appointed committee would no longer be binding. “But we will consider such zones while granting permission,” said Kumbhakoni.
The court will next hear the matter on Wednesday. Sanjeev Gorwadkar, appearing for one of the petitioners, Mahesh Bedekar, said that the amendment cannot be applied retrospectively and the existing rights cannot be taken away. A petition has, meanwhile, been filed by Bedekar challenging the amendment to he noise pollution rules. The centre has sought time to file it’s reply in the matter
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