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State to consult HC before relaxing silence zone norms

The state government wanted to relax silence zone norms before the end of Ganpati festival but it doesn’t seem possible.

mumbai Updated: Sep 18, 2010 01:32 IST
Ketaki Ghoge
Ketaki Ghoge
Hindustan Times

The state government wanted to relax silence zone norms before the end of Ganpati festival but it doesn’t seem possible.

The state’s law and judiciary department has recommended that the draft relaxation norms for silence zone get a concurrence from the high court before government issues them.

This is to avoid any embarrassment if noise pollution activists move court.

The environment department has drafted norms for relaxation of silence zone norms on the lines of the Delhi government seeking more practical parameters to identify these no noise zones.

This includes applying silence zone norms to only registered religious institutions and not all, exempting silence zone norms around schools and even courts during holidays, weekends and post school or court working hours. The relaxation also defines schools that can be included in the silence zone by the number to students it caters to and a hospital by the number of beds it houses.

“The law and judiciary department will consult the high court at their level to get its opinion on this government notification. The move is to consult the court instead of facing an embarrassment in form of an anti-government order later on,” said a senior bureaucrat.

He added that in this scenario, relaxation to the norms were unlikely before the end of the Ganpati festival. The last day of the immersion is on Wednesday.

Of late, the high court has been slamming the state over its various decisions from education to town planning.

According to the Noise Pollution (Control and Regulation) rules framed by the Centre in 2000, silence zone is an area within 100 metres of courts, religious structures, educational institutions and hospitals.

There is a ban on the use of loudspeakers and other instruments here. The decibel levels here are restricted to 50 Db during the day and 40 Db in the night. The 15-day relaxation offered by the states during festivities to the noise rules cannot apply to the silence zones.

The state government was keen to relax these norms to appease various sections that are not happy with the restriction on the public during various festivities and events.

Politicians across party lines were keen on getting these rules relaxed following a Court ruling that banned use of loudspeakers at Shivaji Park, one of city’s largest playgrounds known to host political rallies.

The loudspeakers were banned here since the park was declared to be in silence zone.

However, activists such as Sumaira Abdulali of Awaaz Foundation are firm that such a government notification cannot by pass the Centre’s rules. Abdulali has said that she would move Court against any such state decision to dilute silence zones.

It also set decibel limits for day and night time (after 10 pm) in various zones and put a ban on loudspeakers and instruments at night and in silence zones.

First Published: Sep 18, 2010 01:31 IST