The Bombay High Court interim order directing the state to declare Shivaji Park a silence zone was cheered by local residents.
Shivaji Park, the largest open space in South Central Mumbai, is popular with cricketers, joggers, senior citizens and youngsters.
In March, Hindustan Times conducted a survey of 10,000 Mumbaiites and met with citizen groups across the city to understand their local concerns. In these discussions, noise pollution and the park being used for non-sporting events emerged as major worries.
The order means loudspeakers will be banned, making it impossible for political rallies to be held at Shivaji Park.
Amol Prabhu (55), who regularly walks his dog at the park, said he was relieved not only for himself but also for his dog, who is affected by the noise levels. “It’s not just when the function is held. The sound trials, the stage construction… it goes on through the night,” said Prabhu, an astrologer.
The court passed the order while hearing a public interest litigation filed by the Veckom Trust, Sharad Dixit and J.D. Udeshi, both of whom live near Shivaji Park. The suit, filed last year, sought a ban on non-sporting activities at the park. “Republic Day, Maharashtra Day and Ambedkar Punyatithi are exempted from the order,” said Dixit.
Residents, especially senior citizens like Lalita Sinari (68), said they dread the noise on even the three designated days. “Older people find it tough to bear the noise and negotiate the area [when it is very crowded],” she said.
Students like Kaustubh Patil (14), of Balmohan Vidyamandir, were relieved too. “Now we will have quiet in school. Also, the goal post, which we use for playing football, is regularly pulled out for rallies. This will not happen anymore,” said Patil. Another local resident, Ashok Rawat, said the maidan has temples, schools and hospitals nearby. These fulfill the parameters for the park to be declared a silence zone.
Noise activist Sumaira Abdulali gave credit to local residents. “If residents of other areas take up similar crusades, Mumbai will be a quieter place,” she said.