Bathinda residents losing sleep amid halls of shame
Bathinda residents are having sleepless nights due to din created by marriage palaces in residential areas.chandigarh Updated: Sep 10, 2012 13:21 IST
"An individual is entitled to sleep as comfortably and as freely as he breathes. Sleep is essential for a human being to maintain the delicate balance of health necessarily for the very existence and survival. Sleep is therefore, a fundamental and basic requirement without which the existence of life itself would be in peril. To disturb, therefore, would amount to torture which is now accepted a violation of human rights."
This statement of the apex court while hearing of a public interest litigation (PIL) related to marriage palaces and banquet halls has brought a ray of hope to the locals who are pursuing a lost fight against such businesses being run from residential areas.
Darshan Singh, a resident of Mohala Jhutti Ka, has been fighting hard to earn his right to have good and healthy sleep for the past one year. A certain Bright Banquet Hall is functioning adjacent to his house in a residential area without the permission of the authorities concerned. "We have been fighting for the past three years, but the authorities are so reluctant to heed to us that even inquiries under the Right To Information Act have failed to bring relief to us. I don't know what will make the authorities act against the banquet hall that is functioning in the violation of the law," said Darshan Singh.
"Bright Banquet Hall is being run under the patronage of an influential leader of the ruling political party from the city and none of the authorities, including deputy commissioner and municipal commissioner, dare to take action against it. We have had information from many RTI inquiries, which prove the illegality of this banquet hall, but to no avail."
Darshan Singh is not the only one in the city who has taken up a fight against nuisance and disturbance caused by marriage halls. Guljar Singh of Manocha Colony is singlehandedly pursuing the fight against Dawat Banquet Hall, which has been running adjacent to his house in a residential colony, which is behind the sports stadium. His neighbours have already given up. "It seems there is no authority in the city to implement the law. Ironically, same authorities will either try to pacify or pressurise the common man to step back from his legal right and demand," said 70-year-old Guljar Singh.
"It is almost every night that our sleep is disturbed. Nuisance created by loud music, heavy traffic, illegal parking and celebrations with exploding crackers are not the only problems a marriage palace causes. There are brawls and use of abusive language by drunken guests. If you try to stop them, they will start abusing you. Sometimes we feel that it is crime to live in the vicinity of a banquet hall even if you are living legally and the marriage palace or banquet hall is constructed illegally," he added.
Many other residents living near Dawat Banquet Hall quit the fight and Guljar is the only one left. "Some found it useless to shout at the deaf authorities, while others succumbed to political pressure of an Akali leader. Before the Supreme Court's recent order on the marriage palaces and banquet halls came, I had almost accepted the defeat," said Guljar.
"Dawat Banquet Hall has no licence to function from the said area. Municipal corporation, Bathinda development authority, pollution control board, fire officer, deputy commissioner's office and traffic police department have neither given a licence to operate nor issued a no-objection certificate to the banquet hall. It is still functioning. All thanks to shameless officials of the departments concerned, who are drawing huge salaries every month from the state's exchequer to implement the law," he added.
Chabra marriage palace is another thorn in the flesh of residents and they have lost the fight here too. A few years back, some residents of the residential area behind the Chabra marriage palace had initiated a legal fight against it on the plea that it was causing great inconvenience to people living around it.However, soon residents realised the power of politics. Chabra marriage palace is being run on the land of Zila Parishad. The latter recently gave the sanction to another similar facility adjacent to Chabra palace.
"The list of the problems this marriage palace creates is endless. Now people around here have learnt to live with all the inconvenience. We lost this fight as there was no one to listen to our plight. I dare any bureaucrat, lawyer, judge, minister, journalist or political leader to stand in front of Chabra palace and say it is legal to construct a marriage palace at this place," is the general refrain of those living near the Chabra palace in Pukhraj Colony. All of them, however, sought anonymity.
There are many small banquet hall and marriage palaces, which have been constructed in the residential areas and are running without licence. Residents raised the voice against such illegal establishments, but the authorities
concerned are reluctant to offer any help.
'SC RULING A RAY OF HOPE'
"What the Supreme Court has maintained it its recent order on marriage palaces is already the law of the land. I am excited on recent development, but not confident if it will make the district authorities to budge from their earlier stand. I really do not think if authorities of MCB will violate the orders of their political bosses to implement the orders of the apex court," said Guljar.
After the ruling of the Supreme Court, the Punjab government has ordered the local bodies to collect the data on illegal marriage palaces and banquet halls. It was no surprise that 65 out of the 79 marriage palaces were found illegal.
A latest survey has not been conducted to address the woes of the residents but to respond to the information demanded by the Punjab additional advocate general.