A Bombay High Court division bench of justices AS Oka and Riyaz Chagka, on June 26, 2018, warned that it will not accept any excuses from the Maharashtra government on any breach of noise pollution rules during Ganeshotsav, Dahi Handi and Diwali celebrations, this year. The bench was hearing a bunch of petitions, seeking strict implementation of noise pollution rules in the state and also action against illegal pandals erected during the festivals.
“We will not show any leniency. We want the concerned authorities to take action against any person or organisation flouting the law,” justice Oka said. “The state government should put all local bodies on notice and ensure strict compliance,” the court said.
The court was irked, when it was informed by a petitioner’s lawyer, Rohan Cama that the toll-free number set up by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for the citizens to complain against noise pollution, was not functional. Asking the BMC to look into the issue, justice Oka said, “This is a very sorry state of affairs. We have passed so many orders, to ensure citizens are encouraged to lodge complaints but it seems the whole exercise is in futility.” The court also directed the state government to study a report submitted by National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) on noise-mapping of major cities in the state.
In 2016, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) had suggested to the HC that a state-wide noise-mapping exercise be undertaken. The court had given its go-ahead, following which NEERI was assigned the task. The court asked the government to study the report and sought its proposal, regarding noise mapping. On its part, the government submitted an affidavit regarding noise pollution in south Mumbai, due to the ongoing metro project. The affidavit said readings were taken at three spots and it was found that the decibels were exceeding the prescribed levels. “However, the violation is not deliberate. The government proposes to convene a meeting with officers of the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL), to understand what measures it would take to curb noise pollution,” the affidavit said. The bench has posted the petitions for further hearing on July 3, 2018.