The Kala Ghoda Association (KGA) has decided to organise their annual arts festival without using any loudspeakers at Rampart Row this February.
The decision has come two months after the Association cancelled its October festival citing “lack of clarity” on the silence zone rules of the area.
During the February 2010 festival, the organisers were pulled up by the Colaba police for violating sound limits at the Rampart Row amphitheatre, where a stage is set up for musical performances every year.
“Cancelling a cultural festival of this scale again will be a loss to the city, but we do not wish to break the law either,” said Pallavi Sharma, chief executive officer of the KGA. “The festival this February will be much bigger, but without loudspeakers.”
The 11-year-old Kala Ghoda Arts Festival has been scheduled from February 5 to 13 in 2011, and organisers claim 60% of their programmes have already been finalised. They plan to hold only quiet street shows at Rampart Row and are scouting for other locations in the area for musical concerts.
Loudspeakers are banned in silence zones. According to a Bombay High Court ruling, the area 100 metres around religious or educational institutions is declared as a silence zone.
Rampart Row falls within a silence zone due to its proximity to two religious institutions — a church and a synagogue. Before the February 2010 festival, the association had claimed that they were not aware of this ruling and that they had acquired the necessary permissions to hold musical events in the area.
However, the response to an Right to Information (RTI) query filed by Kala Ghoda resident Berges Malu has revealed that in February 2010 the permissions had not been processed before the festival began and that the Colaba Police had sent a notice to the KGA two days into the festival asking them to stop using loudspeakers.
“It is shocking that the organisers got away with breaking the law at the beginning of the festival,” said Malu, who received the RTI response last week. The KGA has now said that it was informed about the silence zone rule only at the last minute before the festival, when it was too late to cancel.
“We have paid the fine for using loudspeakers and will not use them anymore,” said Sharma.