The Bombay high court on Tuesday slammed the state for failing to effectively implement its directions on following the Noise Pollution Rules, 2000.
In August 2016, the high court had given directions for strictly implementing the noise pollution Rules.
The division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Anuja Prabhudessai was irked to note that though adequate decibel meters have been supplied to each police station across Maharashtra, the device has hardly been used in major cities to look into complaints against noise.
“Even if decibel meters are available, you are not using them. It is so apparent. Nobody is interested in implementation,” said the bench while examining compliances made by the state.
The bench took note of the data of January and February 2017 of major cities such as Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Nagpur, Nashik, Solapur, Aurangabad and Kolhapur.
What irked the bench was the fact that out of 2,218 complaints received in these cities, only 1,321 complaints were addressed using decibel meters.
What was more annoying was that without using decibel meters in almost half the complaints, the police had found “no substance” in 2,035 complaints of violation of noise pollution norms.
Though offences were registered on the basis of 101 complaints, in none of the cases was the loudspeaker or other sound amplifiers seized to stop the noise.
“Immediate relief (for citizens) is to stop it,” said the bench while trying to impress upon the state authorities that they must act immediately to stop the noise, if they find the decibel level beyond permissible limits.
The high court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Thane-based activist, Dr Mahesh Bedekar, complaining about lack of compliance of rules and regulations during festivals such as Ganeshotsav, Navratri and Dahi Handi and a lack of action on part of the authorities even if complaints are made about the violations.
On Tuesday, the bench also discharged retired additional chief secretary (home) KP Bakshi from contempt of court for failing to comply with an earlier court order to procure 1,843 decibel meters for police stations across Maharashtra.
The court had issued contempt notice to Bakshi on May 3, 2016, but on Tuesday discharged him, noting that “decibel meters have been procured by the state government”.
But, the court reiterated that the government was not serious about implementing the directions except for procuring the decibel meters.
Senior advocate Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, appearing for the state government, said a draft notification was waiting for the chief minister’s approval for amendment of development plans under Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act to include the topic of noise mapping in town planning.