Mumbai, (The Hindu): The government has completed the State-wide compliance of noise pollution norms, including procuring decibel meters and declaring silence zones in all districts.
The State government has under the provisions of the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000, declared 2,960 areas as silence zones by the end of September. Of these, 2,238 zones are near hospitals and educational institutions, 615 in residential areas, and the rest in industrial and commercial regions.
The Bombay High Court had come down heavily on the government and blamed it for not complying with the orders of the court on the noise rules. It had even said that the State government must stop treating the issue in an ‘adversarial’ way.
A Division Bench headed by Justice A.S. Oka had questioned the data provided by the government on silence zones and illegal pandals erected for Ganesh festival. “Everything is just on paper,” the court had noted. Officials of the Urban Development Department (UDD) said the definitions of ‘educational institutions’, ‘hospital’ and ‘public places’ were not clear under the norms, resulting in confusion.
The existing norms define educational institutions as a “school, seminary, college, university… those things essential to mental, moral, and physical development”. The officials said they were forced to declare silence zones around training institutions. A senior UDD official said, “We have in some districts declared silence zones even around vyayam shalaas. These norms are not clear and have led to confusion.” A hospital is defined as an institution for reception and care of the sick and wounded, including private hospitals and nursing homes. “These too could not be covered properly since no bed size has been defined in the norms,” said an official.
Pleaders and counsels representing Maharashtra were blamed for not communicating matters clearly to departments and not taking a stand, causing “further embarrassment” to the government in court.
The pleaders were blamed for their laid back approach to key issues deliberated by the judiciary, such as the petition on the installation of sound meters.
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