A day after Hindustan Times reported that Ganpati mandals in the city were clueless about relaxation of noise rules for the 11-day festival, the Mumbai city collectorate released a notification on Monday morning and submitted it to the Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvay Samiti (BSGSS).
According to the notification, noise rules will be relaxed on the four immersion days – September 6, 9, 10 and 15 – with loudspeakers being allowed till midnight.
As per the Environment Protection Act, 1986, and Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000, the use of loudspeakers or public address systems is banned from 10pm to 6am, except 15 days in a year, mostly during festivals.
On Monday, HT reported that Ganpati mandals were not aware about the days when they would be permitted to use loudspeakers beyond 10 pm. While the state environment department said the collector was supposed to issue an order, the latter cited a Bombay high court order and said it was the state government’s job.
“Thanks to the report in Hindustan Times, the city collectorate swung into action and sent us a backdated letter highlighting the noise relaxation days,” said Naresh Dahibhavkar, president, BSGSS. “Even officials from the suburban collectorate called up on Monday and assured us that a notification from their end will be released by Tuesday. Now mandals have clarity and violation of noise pollution rules can be curbed.”
Officials from the state environment department had told HT that individual collectors from every district were supposed to issue the notification since different districts have different immersion days.
Environmentalists said this was a lapse in communication from the state government too. “As per the Supreme Court ruling in 2005 and a recent Bombay high court order, the state government should have communicated the relaxation of three out of four days during the beginning of the year and one day closer to the festival,” said Sumaira Abdulali, convener, Awaaz Foundation. “To not create confusion, the HC, in its latest order also read out that the relaxation needs to be the same at every district across the state and the state government is in-charge of the same.”
What the law says
The Environment Protection Act, 1986 and Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 bans the use of loudspeakers or public address system from 10pm to 6am. The Government of Maharashtra can extend the deadline up to midnight on 15 days during a year
Ganpati Festival (4 days)
Navaratri Festvial – Ashtami and Navami (2 days)
Christmas (1 day)
Diwali – Danatrayodashi and Laxmi Punjan (2 days)
Eid-e-milad (1 day)
Shivajayanti (1 day)
Dr Ambedkar Jayanti (1 day)
The remaining three days are reserved by the government for essential reasons.
The Penalty: A person not adhering to the restrictions put in place by the Maharashtra government can be punished under section 15 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, for a maximum period of five years in jail and a maximum fine of Rs1 lakh. If the offence is repeated frequently, a fine of Rs5, 000 a day can be imposed.