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How can there be no silence zones in Mumbai, Bombay HC asks Maharashtra government

The new rules require each silence zone to be specifically notified and provide that no area shall be treated as silence zone unless so notified by the state

mumbai Updated: Aug 24, 2017 09:56 IST
Kanchan Chaudhari
Kanchan Chaudhari
Hindustan Times
silence zones,Mumbai,Maharashtra
The new rules require each silence zone to be specifically notified and provide that no area shall be treated as silence zone unless so notified by the state(File)

The Bombay high court on Wednesday refused to accept the state government’s stand that all the 1,537 silence zones in Mumbai no longer exist after the August 10 amendment to the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000. Which means not only do the silence zones still exist in Mumbai, but also no loudspeakers can be used in these areas.

“We are not accepting your stand that there are no silence zones,” the division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Riyaz Chagla told advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, expressing displeasure over the adamant stand taken by the state government over issue of silence zones after the amendment to Noise Pollution Rules came into force on August 10.

The new rules require each silence zone to be specifically notified and provide that no area shall be treated as silence zone unless so notified by the state. Relying on this amendment, the state government claimed that after August 10, no silence zone existed in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra, as it has not yet notified any silence zone in terms of the amended rules.

Terming the stand of the state government as highly unfair, the court said what was least expected from the state government was to allow the situation that existed for past 14 years to prevail till the time new silence zones were notified.

The judges disapproved the state’s stand that all the silence zones were wiped out immediately after the amendment to Noise Pollution Rules came into force on August 10.

Even when the judges specifically asked him, advocate general replied that the state’s stand was that the August 2016 judgment did not operate after the amendment and no silence zones existed as of today.

It was hearing a bunch of petitions concerning increasing menace of noise pollution and the non-implementation of the Noise Pollution Rules, 2000.

During the course of hearing on the petitions, the bench also said that its judgment of August 2016 holding that areas falling within 100 meters of educational institutions, hospitals, religious shrines and courts are deemed silence zones and no specific declaration was required to make these areas silence zones, was still in operation till it is reviewed or modified.

That means the areas surrounding all educational institutions, hospitals, religious shrines and courts still continue to be silence zones and in terms of the very same judgment no loudspeakers can be allowed to be used in these prohibited areas.

Hearing on the petitions will continue of Thursday when the court is likely to make it clear as to the existence of silence zones in Mumbai and elsewhere in Maharashtra and whether loudspeakers are to be allowed in silence zones during the forthcoming religious festivals.

First Published: Aug 24, 2017 09:55 IST