After the state government received a rap from the National Green Tribunal on the issue of mapping Mumbai’s silence zones, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has now informed the tribunal that mapping of silence zones in eight wards is complete.
At a hearing before the Western Zone bench of the NGT comprising Justice U D Salvi and expert member Dr Ajay A Deshpande, the BMC stated that they will soon publish these maps on the civic body’s website. In an earlier hearing in September last year, the NGT had given BMC four months to complete the mapping exercise.
Last week, the BMC’s counsel sought three months to complete the task in the remaining 16 wards. The NGT granted them two months to expeditiously carry out the mapping.
The bench also directed the BMC to publish the maps on their website from time to time as and when they are prepared. “We believe that the publication of the maps showing the silence zones, may be of some wards, promptly would benefit the public at large and will alleviate their difficulties in some measure, if not complete,” the bench said in its order. The BMC will present the bench the complete map in a digitised format when complete.
The BMC had earlier identified over 1500 locations across the city as silence zones after an NGT rap for failing to mark the zones despite specific orders. Once an area is declared as a silence zone, there is a ban on the use of loudspeakers, sound amplifiers, vehicular horns, musical instruments and bursting of firecrackers in the area. Any violation can invite a penalty under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. Noise pollution activists, however, have been advocating for mapping to make enforcement of the rules possible.
Activist Mohammed Ishtiaque Bagban, on whose petition the NGT gave this order, said that unless there is a clear boundary demarcating a silence zone, enforcing and collecting evidence of violations is difficult. “There have been notifications of silence zones but the boundary is not clear. With clear rules, citizens can know whether they can complain about a source of noise pollution,” said Bagban.