With the civic body completing the uploading of maps that show Mumbai’s 1,503 silence zones, citizens will be able to use the information to file complaints against noise rules violations. Silence zones are areas within a 100-metre radius around hospitals and educational or religious institutions.
According to the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), while sound levels during Ganeshotsav came down in Mumbai, noise levels at most silence zones in the city were flouted by Ganpati mandals, even after a recent Bombay high court order that prohibited use of loudspeakers, drums and public address systems.
An official from the environment department of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said, “The idea is to assist the implementing authority [police] to have better vigilance during festivals and reduce the impact of noise near schools, colleges and hospitals.” The official, however, said they will issue a notification to alert police and other noise rules enforcement authorities, including MPCB, about the maps.
Last year, the BMC had released a notification stating that the number of silence zones in the city has been increased from 1,177 in 2009 to 1,537 in 2015. It is not clear why 34 silence zones are yet to be marked on the map. With the help of officials from Mumbai’s 24 municipal wards, the BMC has created maps of the silence zones over the past five months.
Anti-noise activists said putting the maps in public domain will help citizens to file complaints. “The maps give citizens the impetus of pointing out a violation to the police, which could not be done earlier as exact dimensions were missing and the information was not in public domain,” said Ashok Rawat from Wecom Trust, an NGO that recorded noise levels above permissible limits at Shivaji Park during Ganeshotsav.
Last month, a division bench of the Bombay high court consisting justice Abhay Oka and justice Amjad Sayed said citizens can claim compensation if their complaints about noise pollution are ignored by enforcement authorities. Officials from the Mumbai police refused to comment as the matter is up for hearing on October 4 in the Bombay high court.
Access to maps
The BMC has uploaded the map of silence zones on its website for citizens to access. Here’s where you can find it:
In the search bar, type silence zone and .pdf file has the details.