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Noise pollution cases during Dahi Handi highest in three years: Mumbai Police

Cops say they file report on each case; activists say preventive action must to avoid repeat

mumbai Updated: Sep 07, 2018 01:09 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,noise pollution,dahi handi
Govindas form a human pyramid as part of dahi handi celebrations in Mumbai on September 3.(HT FILE)

The city police recorded 41 cases of noise pollution during dahi handi this year, higher compared to 28 in 2017 and 22 in 2016. This year, the cases were mostly related to loudspeakers for crossing the permissible limits in residential areas and silence zones.

According to the police, noise readings were taken in every zone, but they can’t be made public as the investigation in each case is pending and a Bombay High Court (HC) order from 2016 had directed them to file reports in individual cases, and submit action-taken reports. The Supreme Court and the HC have passed several orders directing noise pollution rules be strictly followed and have emphasised that religion should not be a reason to break the rules.

“Acting on HC guidelines, we make a proposal, highlighting the cases and decibel (dB) levels. We then give the report to the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, and they further file charge sheets in the court,” said Manjunath Shinge, deputy commissioner of police and Mumbai police spokesperson. A senior police officer said average decibel levels during dahi handi ranged between 79dB and 93dB. Noise rules allow a maximum of 55dB during the day and 45dB at night in residential areas, and 50dB and 40dB during the day and night in silence zones, respectively. There are 110 silence zones in Mumbai.

Shinge said 46 violations were recorded between Sunday and Monday, which included the participation of children below the age of 14 in dahi handi pyramids, lack of safety guidelines while pyramids were being built, and unnecessary traffic congestion. “However, maximum violations were noise related. Every police station in the city has at least one decibel meter and they have all been used during dahi handi this year,” he said.

This year, however, anti-noise activists did not record noise levels in Mumbai, but said the use of loudspeakers was seen at all major celebrations. In 2017, the city celebrated a much quieter dahi handi, as many locations did not use loudspeakers but maximum noise levels were 113.7dB.

“Filing cases is one thing, but taking preventive action by confiscating speakers, arrests or convictions to ensure cases are not repeated has to be seen,” said Sumaira Abdulali, convener, Awaaz Foundation. “We have examples from 2010 where cases were filed against political parties during the Dussehra Rally, but no action has been taken.”

“The cases involve mandals that are not registered with us, and do not understand the traditional importance of the festival. We will consult the police and ensure such violations are not repeated next year,” said Arun Patil, executive president, Dahi Handi Samanvay Samiti (DHSS).

First Published: Sep 07, 2018 01:09 IST