The Kala Ghoda Association (KGA) has decided to cancel its annual Festival of India scheduled from October 29-31, as the festival venue on Rampart Row falls within a silence zone.
“The cancellation of the Kala Ghoda Festival is a shame. Street festival culture in the city will disappear if silence zone norms are not marked rationally,” said Shirin Bharucha, a KGA trustee.
The Association has been holding the short October festival for the past three years at Rampart Row, as an addition to the 11-year-old Kala Ghoda Arts Festival held there every February.
The amphitheatre, where musical events for both festivals are staged, falls within 100 metres of St. Andrew’s Church – a place of worship – making it a silence zone according to a 2009 Bombay High Court ruling.
“We have decided to cancel the festival this season because we don’t want to do anything illegal,” said Pallavi Sharma, chief executive officer of the Association. “We already have a no-objection certificate from the Church to continue with the festival, but we are not planning to move court to seek an exemption yet.”
The KGA has approached the city’s police commissioner and the state home and environment ministries with the issue, and are planning to wait for the government to move court first.
“If they have not done so by the time of the 2011 February festival, we will consider asking for exemption,” said Sharma.
This February, the festival came under the scanner for violating sound limits after a local college student, Burges Mallu, objected to their playing loud music around religious places. He later retracted and claimed that the music was not loud enough to violate noise limits.
Lawrence Harding, a senior member of St. Andrews Church, said, “The festival organisers do not play loud music during our Sunday evening prayer timings.”