The state government is all set to redefine the rules governing silence zones.
The revised rules will be finalised before the 10-day Ganesh festival that begins on September 11.
The rules on silence zones cover areas up to 100 metres around educational institutions, hospitals, courts and religious places.
This means areas where noise levels were supposed to be below 40dB (decibels) by night and 50dB by day will now be allowed to have loud music at times. There are 51 areas in Mumbai declared as silence zones. This includes areas around 47 educational institutions and four hospitals.
The state will issue a government resolution specifying the changes in the rules.
The rule will be applicable for events throughout the year. The move is seen as the government’s attempt to please various sections that are unhappy with restrictions on public events due to silence zone norms.
Representatives of Ganesh mandals met Jayant Patil, Guardian Minister of the island city, on Monday requesting him to relax timings around silence zones. Patil had asked the state government to reconsider the rules for Ganesh pandals near schools. He had said the rules could be relaxed after 5pm, when schools close.
“We are finalising the revised rules after getting a go-ahead from the Centre to formulate our own regulations to allow some relaxation within the strict 100-metre definition of silent zones,” said Environment Secretary Valsa Nair-Singh, who attended the meeting at Mantralaya to look at the issue on Tuesday. “There is a high court ruling that says the state has the authority to relax noise rules as per need.”
For schools, the state plans to make amends according to the number of students. It is likely that rules in these zones will be relaxed over weekends. Rules for areas around a hospital will be redefined according to the number of beds in that hospital. The norms for religious places will be relaxed for those that are not registered with the state.
Activist Sumaira Abdulali of Awaaz Foundation, who has been opposing the amendment, says relaxing the norms will still not allow the use of loudspeakers.
“Amending the state Silence Zone notification will not affect the operation of Noise Pollution Rules, which mandate that loudspeakers cannot be used in silence zones. Those restrictions will stay,” she said.