Noise levels at the Shiv Sena’s Dussehra rally at Shivaji Park, Dadar, on Tuesday were much above permissible limit for a Silence Zone. The noise blared at 98.9 decibels (dB), which is almost as loud as a discotheque.
According to the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000, the sound levels within a Silence Zone cannot exceed 50dB.
Last year, senior Shiv Sena leader and state environment minister Ramdas Kadam’s speech was the loudest at 97.4dB.
Anti-noise activists Awaaz Foundation and Shivaji Park-based Wecom trust took noise readings from 6pm onwards until 9pm and found sound levels breaching rules — from political speeches, loudspeakers playing music, drums and others within the Shivaji Park ground.
“The rally was much louder than the ones in previous years and there has been no attempt to maintain noise rules this time. The norms were flouted despite police presence. Any officer I spoke to did not seem to carry a decibel meter,” said Sumaira Abdulali, convener, Awaaz Foundation.
While the maximum sound levels from speeches from the announcer was recorded at 94.7dB, the reading during Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s speech was 85.4dB. Subhash Desai’s peaked at 97.6dB.
On May 5, 2010, the Bombay High Court (HC) had declared Shivaji Park a Silence Zone while hearing a petition filed by Wecom, a residents’ trust. It had said that any violation of the rule will invite stringent action from the state.
The NGOs alleged that Shiv Sena had not taken permission from the HC for use of loudspeakers this year.
The Supreme Court’s guidelines on noise pollution prohibit the use of loudspeakers at places located within 100m of a hospital, school, court, or a religious place, known as a ‘Silence Zone’.
While a Shiv Sena spokesperson said that the party had received permission from the Mumbai police, Paramjit Singh Dahiya, deputy commissioner of police, Zone 5, confirmed that the Shivaji Park police station had given permission for the use loudspeakers on Tuesday. However, he did not comment on the court orders.
“The police have committed contempt of court by allowing the breach of noise rules,” said Ashok Ravat, member, Wecom Trust, adding that the petitioners were not notified about any permission for the use of loudspeakers.
He cited a comprehensive Bombay High Court order that not only bans the use of loudspeakers at Silence Zones but even drums, horns, trumpets and music through amplifiers.
“We will be taking the matter to the Bombay HC as our case is up of hearing on Thursday,” said Ravat.
Meanwhile, noise levels from various Dusshera processions too, breached norms on Tuesday. Awaaz Foundation recorded noise from one procession at Shivaji Park, Dadar at 105 dB, abother at Mahim was 98 dB.