The Bombay High Court, on Wednesday, rapped the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) and the Thane police for failing to implement the 2008 guidelines issued by the municipal commissioner, for granting permission for pandals during festivals.
A division bench of justices Ranjana Desai and RV More had asked the state government to chalk out a plan for a quieter celebration of festivals like dahi handi, Ganpati, Navratri, Id, Christmas and so on.
On Wednesday, counsels for TMC — Ram Apte and NR Bubana — told the court that the TMC commissioner had issued guidelines on August 26, 2008, while granting permission for erecting pandals.
Despite the guidelines, permissions were given randomly during festivals. “We can understand sentiments, but they can’t inconvenience the public. You rampantly allow pandals on roads,” remarked justice Desai.
One of the guidelines is that the officer (granting the permission) consider the width of the road and ensure that the pandal does not block traffic.
“Take any busy street and you will find a pandal there. What kind of discretion is being exercised and what deliberations do officers conduct before granting permissions?” remarked justice Desai.
The high court has now asked them to submit the guidelines by October 11 and has scheduled the hearing for October 13.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Thane-based doctor, Dr Mahesh Bedekar, seeking that the noise pollution norms be strictly implemented, especially in the silence zones – near hospitals, schools, courts and religious places. Dr Bedekar runs a hospital in Thane.
Sanjeev Gorwadkar, Dr Bedekar’s counsel, argued that the celebration of dahi handi, Ganpati and Navratri causes a lot of noise pollution.
Besides, the pandals block half the roads, thereby blocking traffic.