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Maharashtra government wants noise norms to be relaxed during Ganpati

Mumbai city news: Over the last week, decibel levels in both the saffron parties about removing restrictions in these festivities have only increased.

mumbai Updated: Jul 07, 2017 10:18 IST
HT Correspondent

 The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government is likely to walk the extra mile to get noise pollution rules relaxed for the upcoming Ganesh festival, besides removing restrictions on the height of the human pyramids during dahi handi.

In a meeting held with the main organisers of the events, BJP leaders and senior government officials on Thursday, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis accepted their demands to consider issuing an ordinance to relax silence zone norms during the Ganesh festival. He also accepted their demand to appoint a senior counsel, Tushar Mehta, to argue the case filed by one of the Dahi Handi mandals in the Apex court. The meeting was held after a request made by city BJP president Ashish Shelar.

The decision has political overtones given that the bickering saffron allies have been trying to outdo one another to give patronage to these popular, local festivities, seen as being integral to Maharashtra’s cultural identity, yet again, this year.

Just hours before this meeting, a delegation of Sena ministers, led by environment minister Ramdas Kadam, met Fadnavis, calling for an intervention by the government to remove curbs on celebrating these festivals in the next two months. A day before, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had demanded the same.

Over the last week, decibel levels in both the saffron parties about removing restrictions in these festivities have only increased.

During the meeting, Ganesh festival mandals raised the issue of silence zone restrictions within 100m of schools, courts and hospitals. The organisers said the festival mandals in the vicinity of these institutions face difficulties owing to noise restrictions.

“We do not want to make the festivals noisy, but that does not mean our century-old traditions should be silenced. We have demanded the court give us an exemption of 30 days a year from the norms of the silence zones and the days should be distributed among all festivities of all religions on the lines of distribution for the 10pm deadline on loudspeakers. Fadnavis has assured us he will take up the issue with the Centre,” said Ashok Godse, president, Shreemant Dagadushet Halwai Ganpati Trust, Pune.

“If the Centre failed to act on our request within the stipulated period and before the festivals begin, the government will issue an ordinance for the exemptions,” Shelar said.

Officials who attended the meeting said the government is likely to seek powers from the Centre to take a call on granting relaxations from silence zones during the festivities.

“The Centre, state governments or the urban local bodies do not have any say in the restrictions imposed in the silence zones as per the order of the Supreme Court. The state wants the power to decide the exemptions because it hampers the celebration of the festivals across the religions,” Shelar said.

With regards to Dahi Handi, the state government will appoint a senior counsel, in a petition filed by one of the organisers of the festival in the Apex court. The hearing in this matter is on July 10. The government’s stance will be to point out how Dahi Handi celebrations are a part of the state’s cultural identity and while safety norms are necessary, there should not be blanket curbs on human pyramids.