Has govt. notified silence zones after rule change: HC

The Bombay High Court on Wednesday asked if the State government has notified any area as silence zones after an amendment to the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000, denotified all silence zones in the State.

The court also said that it proposes to pass an order putting all municipal corporations and district councils on notice to ensure that the noise pollution 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 by the State government. The State, in August last year, told the high court that as per the amendment, a 2016 high court order declaring areas near hospitals, schools, colleges and courts as silence zones cannot be implemented. The government had said it would determine areas to be notified as silence zones.

A Division Bench of Justices A.S. Oka and Riyaz Chagla on Wednesday sought to know if the government has carried out the said exercise and if any area has been notified as a 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 include procurement of decibel meters for every police station in the State to record noise levels during festivals and processions, and taking appropriate action against violators.

A direction was also issued to State revenue officers to inspect illegal pandals and report them to the municipal corporations concerned. They were also asked to set up dedicated helpline numbers and websites for citizens to lodge complaints regarding noise pollution.

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