The state government on Thursday informed the Bombay high court that it will map noise levels in major cities across Maharashtra.
Government pleader Abhinandan Vagyani informed the division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Amjad Sayed the mapping will initially be done in metro cities only.
According to an affidavit submitted by Vagyani, the state government has asked the pollution board to identify major cities where noise mapping should be conducted, to submit an action plan and specify the time required for completing the exercise.
Vagyani was responding to a bunch of public interest litigations, including one by Thane-based activist Dr. Mahesh Bedekar, who complained about noise in major cities and the complete lack of implementation of Noise Pollution Rules, 2000, especially during public celebration of religious festivals. Acting on the PILs, the court had, in August, ordered the state government to take an appropriate decision on mapping all major cities across the state.
Submitting a fresh schedule, KP Bakshi, additional chief secretary (home) informed the bench that the department will procure 1240 noise meters by November 19. In his affidavit filed on Thursday, he has said that of the total requirement of 1,853 decibel meters, the government has already procured 613 and the remaining was delayed due to lapse on the part of suppliers.
The court had earlier issued a notice to Bakshi, who was present in court on Thursday, asking him why proceedings for contempt of court should not be initiated against him for delay in procuring the meters. The court has, however, warned that it will treat any further delay as aggravated contempt and take action accordingly.
In the course of hearing on the PILs, Dr Bedekar’s lawyer, senior advocate SM Gorwadkar pointed out that though two completely indigenous, cheaper and viable options are available for noise meters, the home department had completely ignored the offers from the suppliers.
Gorwadkar pointed out that one of the options – Dhwani Rakshak, manufactured by VU Solar Pvt. Ltd. – is a completely automated system, capable of remotely controlling multiple locations where noise meters are installed and connected to GPS and internet. The second option, according to him, is a noise meter developed by a sound engineer from IIT of Mahabal Enviro Engineers Pvt. Ltd., which is available for Rs 7,500, whereas the government is spending Rs 96,000 on on imported meter.