Mumbai: The Bombay High Court today sought to know from the Maharashtra government if it has notified any area in the state as silence zone pursuant to an amendment in the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules 2000 by which all silence zones in the state stood denotified.
The court also said that it proposes to pass an order putting all municipal corporations and district councils on notice to ensure that the rules are implemented during the upcoming festival season. As per the amended rules issued by the Union government on August 10, 2017 any area/zone cannot be considered a silence area/zone until and unless specific declaration to that effect is made or issued by the state government.
The state government had in August last year told the high court that pursuant to the amendment to the Rules, a 2016 order of the HC declaring areas near hospitals, schools, colleges and courts as silence zones cannot be operated. The government had then said it would carry out an exercise to determine which area should be notified as a silence zone.
A division bench of justices A S Oka and Riyaz Chagla today sought to know if the government has carried out the said exercise and if any area has been notified as silence zone. “It seems like till date the government has not done anything. We should know which areas are silence zones so that we can ensure that the Noise Pollution Rules are strictly followed in these areas and all other areas ahead of the festival season,” Justice Oka said. “We want the government to tell us next week what festivals are coming up and their dates. We want all authorities to know that if there are any violations of the rules then we will initiate strict contempt action against the errant officials,” he said.
The court was hearing a bunch of petitions seeking strict implementation of the Noise Pollution Rules. It has posted the petitions for further hearing on August 7. The high court has in several orders passed in the past few years directed the government to ensure strict implementation of the rules.
Some of the directions passed by the high court include procurement of decibel meters for every police station in the state for recording noise levels during festivals and processions and taking appropriate action against violators. A direction was also issued for state revenue officers to carry out inspection of illegal pandals and report the same to municipal corporations concerned. They were also asked to set up a dedicated helpline numbers and websites for citizens