The Maharashtra government, in an affidavit before the Bombay High Court, has stated that the state assembly passed a Bill to enact the Maharashtra Transport and Roads Safety Act on April 6, 2017.
Once it receives presidential assent, the Bill will bring about significant changes in rules for honking in silence zones.
Under Section 15 (1) of the said Act, it is contemplated that the state government shall make rules for effective enforcement of the Central Act, for reducing and controlling air and noise pollution of the motor vehicles.
With a view to curb the vehicular noise, the Act contemplates restrictions on use of horns under Section 20, which provides that a driver of a vehicle shall not:
(i) sound the horn needlessly or continuously or more than necessary to ensure safety
(ii) sound the horn in silence zones
(iii) make use of a cut-out by which exhaust gases are released other than through the silencer
(iv) fit or use any multi-toned horn giving a harsh, shrill, loud or alarming noise
(v) drive a vehicle creating undue noise when in motion and
(vi) drive a vehicle with a muffler causing alarming noise.
In case of violation of any of these provisions, a fine of Rs. 2,000 will be imposed under Section 23 of the said Act.
Advocate-General AA Kumbhakoni submitted the affidavit before the bench of Justice AS Oka and Justice Vibha Kankanwadi, while they were hearing a batch of petitions, seeking effective implementation of Noise Pollution Rules, 2000.
Section 21(4) of the said Act provides for creation of separate safety fund for the purposes of road safety, which can also be utilised for various initiatives such as public awareness relating to noise pollution etc.
Referring to the directions passed by another bench headed by Justice AS Oka on the implementation of Noise Pollution Rules and specifically on undertaking noise mapping in the state, Kumbhakoni said the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) has installed real time continuous noise monitoring stations at 10 locations in Mumbai and its suburbans i.e., Mumbai-Vadal, Bandra, Powai, Andheri, Kandivali, Fort, Chembur, Thane, Navi Mumbai (Vashi, Mahape) and real-time data is being displayed at five locations and hosted on MPCBs and CPCBs websites.
Also, the MPCB has procured 25 sound level meters and decided to conduct noise mapping in coordination with municipal corporations in 27 cities in Maharashtra.