Need to create awareness on noise pollution during fests: HC

Expressing concern over noise pollution during the upcoming Ganesh Chaturthi and Janmashtami festivals, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday observed that there is a need to create social awareness on the issue.

Addressing the lawyer for the state, Rajesh Behre, Justice Ranjana Desai said, "You should have taken steps to create better social awareness on noise pollution during festivals."

In September last year, the High Court had asked the Maharashtra government and the Thane Municipal Corporation to ensure that Ganesh and Janmashtami pandals follow noise regulations, and had directed that a committee be formed in this regard. On Wednesday, the court criticised the inaction of the committee which was created to come up with a plan to avoid chaos during festivals.

"In one entire year, the committee has met only once. Why did it not meet more regularly?" asked Justice Desai.

Taking serious note of the issue, the Division Bench of Justice Desai and Justice R G Ketkar summoned senior officials from the Thane Traffic Police Department and Thane Municipal Corporation, as well as officials from the state Home Department and the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB).

The judges were hearing a public interest litigation filed by Thane-based gynaecologist Mahesh Bedekar. The petition contends that people should not be allowed to block roads during celebrations, and also that noise pollution rules should be implemented strictly, especially in silence zones.

The petitioner told Newsline, "I am not at all against celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi and Dahi Handi. My only objection is that public peace and order should not be disturbed on account of these celebrations."

However, the judges also asked the petitioner to maintain "a sense of balance", saying, "You should also try to understand people's right to enjoy themselves. Poor people do not go to five star hotels to have a good time. This is their way of celebrating."

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