The state’s environment department has petitioned the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MOEF) to relax norms around silence zones.
It has sought permission to formulate its own norms to allow some relaxation in the strict 100-m definition of silence zones. This follows the high court ruling in May that declared Shivaji Park, the largest playground in Mumbai, as a silence zone and banned use of loudspeakers here.
The state, through its letter had on May 14 sought a 15-day relaxation in the silence zone, currently available for the non-silence areas.
However, MOEF had turned this request down. The department sent another letter this month seeking permission to formulate its own relaxation norms.
“We are hoping the Centre will give us a go ahead to work our own norms. We had sought some clarification on the silent-zone definition,’’ said Valsa Nair Singh, principal secretary of the environment department.
The Centre framed the noise pollution (control and regulation) rules in February 2000.
The rules identified silence zones as areas within 100 metres of courts, religious structures, educational institutions and hospitals. It also set decibel limits for day and night time (after 10 pm) in various zones and put a ban on loudspeakers and other instruments at night. The state is of the opinion that there should be clearer definition of educational institutes, and hospitals. For instance, the department has argued that educational institutions cannot include a nursery or a play school. Or a hospital should be defined by number of beds and not refer to small clinics or nursing homes.
The department has also questioned the validity of including religious structures in this ban considering many religious places have a tradition of loud noises whether it is the temple bell or the loud broadcasting of call to prayer in mosques.
“If we take a general definition then most of Mumbai will have to fall into a silent zone,’’ said a senior minister. The Centre is expected to okay this plea soon.
Majority of politicians in the state were upset with the ruling as this would be rule out possibility of any political rallies at Shivaji Park, known as the nerve centre of political meets.
There had been an overall consensus in the ruling alliance to challenge this ban.