The Allahabad High Court recently rapped the State for making "feeble and weak" attempts at curbing noise pollution, despite its earlier orders highlighting the necessity to curb the menace.
The Bench comprising Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Abdul Moin noted that while the State did issue an order on 4 January, "nothing much appears to have been done on the ground", as the same seemingly indicated that those using loudspeakers have been granted permission by the competent authorities. Opining that this was "sham compliance" of the Court's orders as well as the law, it observed,
"... we feel that the order dated 4.1.2018 issued by the State Government does not cover the entire mechanism for proper implementation and compliance of the directions contained in the order dated 20.12.2017, inasmuch as there is neither any provision for controlling noise emanating from the loudspeakers day and night including the bands/DJ’s accompanying the marriage processions and other processions taken out in the streets day and night.
The order dated 4.1.2018 appears to give a blanket permission without any check or control to the persons seeking to install loudspeakers or who have already installed loudspeakers. Such blanket permission, in our considered opinion and that too without having any checking mechanism, is simply an attempt for a sham compliance of the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 (hereinafter referred to as the 2000 Rules)...
...Needless to mention that despite issue of the said order the things have not changed even an iota, rather persons indulging in noise pollution have now become even more brazen about it."
The Court then permitted Additional Chief Standing Counsel, Mr. H.P. Srivastava, to file a better affidavit. It was further informed by Principal Secretary (Home) Mr. Arvind Kumar that the State was planning to purchase machines to measure the noise emanating from such loudspeakers. The idea, however, lost its charm once the Court began questioning Mr. Kumar. The order notes,
"... upon a query from this Court as to how in case the machine reaches the place emanating the noise which is beyond the permissible limit and the person, upon seeing the said machine and squad, reduces the noise then what would be the purpose of the said machine, to which Sri Arvind Kumar did not have any reply and stated that he would revert back to this Court with other and better suggestions."
The Court, however, appreciated the suggestion put forth by the Petitioner, Mr. Moti Lal Yadav, who recommended that any person seeking permission for a loudspeaker must also be required to install a "noise governor", which would not allow the noise from exceeding the permissible limits. The Court directed the State to examine this suggestion and inform it about its implementation on the next date of hearing.
The Bench further "found it strange" that the noise emanating from the loudspeakers was being measured from a distance of four meters, making reference to material available on the website of Yale University and City Redding California Project, which supported measurement from a distance of 3 feet.
Highlighting this discrepancy, the Court granted the State four weeks time to file a "better affidavit", observing, "We expect that serious endeavor will be made by the State Government so as to tackle the menace of noise pollution."
The matter has now been listed on 12 March.