Mumbai: With the festive season around the corner, Maharashtra Government wants to ensure it keeps the noise pollution under check in the maximum city. Although the news has not digested well with Ganpati and Janmashtami mandals. After the State Government announced hefty fines and jail term for violators of noise levels in Mumbai’s silent zones, Ganpati mandals feel its tradition is smothered with rules and regulations.
However, the immediate victim will be govinda pathaks (groups) as Janmashtami will be celebrated on Monday and these groups tend to use loudspeakers every year to attract audiences and make an event of it. “It is more a tradition than an event or function. Of course, the Dahi Handi will not take place on silence zones but since there are many groups in the city, they will need space for rehearsals. And music sets the mood,” said a govinda from Bala Gopal Dahi Handi mandal in Borivali.
Apparently, violating the noise levels will attract a penalty of Rs 1 lakh and a jail sentence of up to five years. The state government has furnished a list of 110 silent zones in the city which includes government and private hospitals, nursing homes, courts, schools and colleges. Merely 10 days after Janmashtami, Ganesh Chaturthi will ring in and while the mandals are allowed to use loudspeakers until midnight for four days, there are many who complain of the festival losing its taste. “We have to use loudspeakers for the aartis twice a day. These are new things that we are listening; that prayers can be called noise pollution. Then there would not be devotees if that were true,” said Brahma Vyas, president of a Wadala Ganpati mandal.
Notably, there are more than 1,000 mandals which fall on or around silence zones. The circular by the State Government further adds that the noise level in residential areas cannot exceed 50 decibels during day and 40 decibels at night. The levels are marginally higher in commercial areas of the city at 75 decibels and 70 decibels during day and night respectively.
However, govinda events and Ganpati visarjan flout the decibel level rules every year. While only 50 decibels are allowed during the daytime, it goes up to almost 100 decibels and during nights, it goes up to around 85 decibels instead of coming down to 40 decibels. Sumaira Abdulali, founder, Awaaz Foundation, said it is a good decision of court keeping a high penalty as it will restrain people from playing loud music.
“Every year the noise regulations are flouted and no action is taken against the culprits. No one is opposed to festivals, it is the festivities that include unnecessary loud music is what should be stopped. People don’t realise but noise affects people’s brains as well,” Abdulali said.