It’s going to be a deafening Ganesh festival this year as the Maharashtra government has told the Bombay High Court that there will be no ‘silence zones’ in the city and beyond.
The court was keen to understand the rationale behind the government’s decision to allow the use of loudspeakers during the Ganpati festival. The government was represented by Ashutosh Kumbhkoni, who argued that the government was merely amending the Noise Pollution Rules of 2000.
According to the amendment, no area can be considered a silence zone unless notified by the state. The amendment sought to get around a Bombay High Court ruling that had banned the use of loudspeakers in the city’s silence zones. The judges had even instructed the government to take action against those Ganpati mandals that violated this order.
On Tuesday, the government informed a division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Riyaz Chagla that there are no silence zones in the state as of now, but that the state is pondering their decision.
“As of now there are no silence zones in the state,” Kumbhkoni said, adding, “But it should not be taken as if we are trying to overrule this court. We just want to make this court’s orders workable.”
Visibly irritated by the arguments and contentions, Justice Oka said, “Why is the government so keen to allow the use of loudspeakers in silence zones…We also want to know that since there are no silence zones now, what would be the permissible decibel levels. Does it means that you will allow use of loudspeakers everywhere — outside schools, hospitals, courts?”
The government has filed another affidavit revealing the steps it has taken to comply with the HC’s ruling. But the judges weren’t impressed. “We are not at all satisfied by this affidavit as there is hardly any compliance. It seems that you are taking this court for granted,” Justice Oka said.