Relaxation of noise rules during festivals in Maharashtra goes against right to life: Activists | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Relaxation of noise rules during festivals in Maharashtra goes against right to life: Activists

Mumbai city news: The use of loudspeakers in silence zones is against the right to life or personal liberty, said anti-noise crusader Sumaira Abdulali

mumbai Updated: Jul 13, 2017 00:06 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Sumaira Abdulali from NGO Awaaz Foundation said noise levels during festivals in Mumbai could reach 123.7 decibels (dB) — as loud as a thunderclap.
Sumaira Abdulali from NGO Awaaz Foundation said noise levels during festivals in Mumbai could reach 123.7 decibels (dB) — as loud as a thunderclap. (HT File Photo)

A week after chief minister Devendra Fadnavis asked the Union government to relax noise rules for festivals in Maharashtra, anti-noise activists said lifting these curbs would violate the constitutional right to life.

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and environment minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, anti-noise crusader Sumaira Abdulali from NGO Awaaz Foundation said noise levels during festivals in Mumbai could reach 123.7 decibels (dB) — as loud as a thunderclap.

“The Supreme Court (SC) has upheld noise rules, terming them a ‘constitutional right of citizens to enjoy a peaceful life’ under Article 21. Apart from adversely affecting health of infants, elderly people and sick people, the use of loudspeakers in silence zones is against the right to life or personal liberty,” she said.

What is a silence zone?
  • The Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000, define silence zones areas within 100m of sensitive places such as hospitals, courts, educational institutions and religious places where people need an extra level of protection
  • Silence zones must keep noise levels to 45dB during the day and 40dB during the night
  • The licence to use loudspeakers or public address systems in silence zones won’t be granted, “there is a complete ban on beating a drum or tom tom, or blowing horns, either musical or pressure, or trumpet or beats or sounds any instrument playing of any music, using any sound amplifiers, holding of mimetic musical or other performances of a nature,” said a division bench of Bombay high court justices Abhay Oka and Amjad Sayed

“The PM has a mission to ensure a pollution-free country. The environment minister is an ENT surgeon. They will be well aware of how noise pollution poses an eminent danger to crores of Mumbaiites,” she added.

On October 5, 2005, the Supreme Court banned the use of loudspeakers in silence zones. The Bombay high court (HC) passed a comprehensive order in August 2016 and the state filed an undertaking, saying it would ensure that loudspeakers would not be permitted in silence zones.

Last week, however, the state requested the high court to relax noise norms by allowing the use of loudspeakers in silence zones during the 10-day Ganeshotsav festival from August 25. Last month, the high court issued another comprehensive order, directing the state to ensure that the Mumbai police could not permit the installation of loudspeakers in silence zones.

“The peak effects of noise pollution are felt during the festival season when loudspeakers are often used in the sensitive areas,” said Abdulali, who has been measuring noise levels since 2002. “Medical studies have proven that noise pollution affects the entire human body and leads to hearing loss, mental health problems and even heart disease,” she said.

Last week, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Ashish Shelar said the state would issue an ordinance to relax noise norms if the Centre failed to act on its request.

State officials said no directions had been issued so far. “The state does not have the power to issue any ordinance. Only the central government has the power to amend to the noise rules. High court judges have issued comprehensive orders that deter such a move,” said Satish Gavai, additional chief secretary, state environment department.