Districts in Maharashtra can’t decide days for noise rule exemption, say activists
Fadnavis has requested the MoEF to allow district collectors, and not the state government, to decide on which 15 days they want to relax the noise restrictions for their district.mumbai Updated: Mar 08, 2017 16:23 IST
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’ request for noise rules relaxation violates the Supreme Court orders, said anti-noise campaigners.
Fadnavis has requested the Ministry for Environment, Forest and Climate Change to allow district collectors, and not the state government, to decide on which 15 days in a year they want to relax the noise restrictions for their particular district.
On Tuesday, the CM met Union environment minister Anil Dave for expediting a number of infrastructure projects. Based on a proposal submitted by the state environment department, the CM requested the Centre for noise rule exemption. “At present, relaxation of 15 days a year is given for noise limit.The Government of Maharashtra requested to consider a district as a unit instead of the state and empower collectors,” the CM tweeted.
Anti-noise campaigners said an order passed by the Supreme Court in 2005 allows only the state government to take a call regarding exemptions, not districts. “The power to grant exemption is conferred on the state government. It cannot be further delegated. The power shall be exercised by reference to the state as a unit and not by reference to districts, so as to specify different dates for different districts,” read an order passed by the then Chief Justice of India RC Lahoti and Ashok Bhan.
The SC verdict added, “We make it clear that the scope of exemption cannot be widened. If this is attempted to be done, then the conferring power to grant exemption may be liable to be struck down as a violative of Articles 14 and 21 (Equality before Law and Protection Of Life And Personal Liberty).”
The order was reiterated by the Bombay HC in August last year. A bench of Justices Abhay Oka and Amjad Sayed had directed the state to clarify its government resolution on the exemption given 15 days in a year, for use of loudspeakers between 10pm and midnight. Noting that only 12 days have been specified, “The power of exemption from noise pollution rules can be exercised by the government and cannot be delegated to anyone else. The exemption will not be available in silence zones,” the order read.
Officials from the state environment department said it was a Union legislation and the ministry could change the rules. “Each district has its own unique identity. The issue that we face is different districts have different Ganeshotsav immersions or Durga Puja celebrations. In such a situation we have to sometimes accommodate an extra day from the already sanctioned 15 days,” said Satish Gavai, principal secretary, state environment department. “The district has to be the unit to issue the notification and not the state.”
The move comes months after the state had failed to implement the notification till the first day of Ganeshostav 2016. HT had reported that Ganesh mandals across the state were clueless about the relaxation of noise norms on September 4, 2016, the first day of the festival. Following the report, the secretariat was forced to function on Monday — a holiday — to issue a notification.