U’khand HC Quietens The Noise: Sets Max Limit For Loudspeakers, Pvt Sound System At 5dB, Motorcycles To Be Fitted With Silencers [Read Order]
The Uttarakhand High Court has silenced the blaring of the loudspeakers or public address system in the state by announcing that any person, including religious bodies in temples, mosques and gurdwaras, cannot use them without a written undertaking that the noise level will not exceed 5 decibel (dB) peripheral noise level.
Not just that, even a privately-owned sound system like the one used in households should also not exceed 5 dB.
While pressure horns have been banned in the state, all Senior Superintendents of Police/Superintendents of Police and Circle Officers have been directed to ensure that motorcycles throughout the state are duly fitted with silencers to avoid noise pollution and menace.
A bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Lok Pal Singh said so while deciding a petition filed by Mahendra Singh through advocate AK Sharma highlighting how a Haridwar-based industry, Hanung Toys & Textile Ltd, was letting out untreated effluents in a college playground and nearby areas, thereby, polluting the groundwater making it carcinogenic. The court was informed that the colour of the water coming from the hand-pumps is brownish in colour loaded with chemicals. This water is consumed by children and also the cattle. The underground water is also used for irrigation purposes. Once the crop is irrigated by this kind of untreated water, it makes the vegetable/crops poisonous.
The bench was unable to comprehend how the district administration had allowed this to happen while directing the industry to pay damages of Rs 5 crore for restoration of the ecology of the area.
Holding the administration guilty of failing to enforce the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, resulting in large-scale industrial disasters in the area, the bench enlarged the scope of the petition by also including the noise pollution either emanating from the factories or by way of indiscriminate use of loudspeakers/amplifiers even by religious bodies.
The bench has passed the following mandatory directions:
- The Department of Environment and Forests of Uttarakhand is directed to inspect each and every industry situated in the state to ensure that the industrial effluent/waste is treated properly before hazardous substances are also disposed of as per law. All the parameters laid down under various notifications issued under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 must be scrupulously followed, monitored and adhered to.
The industries which do not conform to norms shall be ordered to be closed down.
- The Department of Environment and Forests of Uttarakhand shall visit and inspect each and every effluent treatment plant, sewage treatment plant and conventional treatment plant to ensure that not even a drop of chemical/industrial waste material is discharged into the water and in the open causing water and air pollution. It is made clear by abundant precaution that as and when the inspection is carried out by the Environment Engineers of the department, he would be accompanied by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) of the concerned area and for this purpose, the Secretary, Revenue, shall also issue separate instructions to the SDMs.
- Hanung Toys& TextileLtd is liable to pay special/ exemplary damages of Rs. 5 crore for restoration of the environment and ecology of the area. It has been told to deposit Rs. 5 crore with the District Magistrate, Haridwar, within four weeks from today.
The District Magistrate, Haridwar/SDM concerned shall utilize this amount for the restoration of the water quality and to install the water purifiers in the area concerned after visiting the spot.
- Hanung Toys& TextileLtd shall not run the factory without obtaining a permanent no-objection certificate from the Uttarakhand Pollution Control Board.
- The Secretary of the Department of Environment and Forests of Uttarakhand is directed to initiate disciplinary proceedings against officers/officials in whose tenure the large-scale untreated industrial effluent was discharged in the playground and in the adjoining fields, within a period of three months from today, even if, the employees have retired.
- All the representatives of Panchayat Raj Institutions like pradhan, up-pradhan, members of panchayats, Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samities are directed to inform the Department of Environment and Forests of Uttarakhand about environmental issues in their respective areas. These matters shall be taken up seriously by the department.
- The state government is directed to circulate the copy of this judgment to all the panchayats through their pradhans to make the villagers aware of their rights.
- It shall be the responsibility of the Secretary, State of Uttarakhand, Pollution Control Board, to ensure that each and every effluent treatment plant, sewage treatment plant and conventional treatment plant functions round the clock throughout the state.
The court will not hesitate to put the Secretary under suspension if degradation of the environment and ecology in any area is reported to the court.
- The state government is directed to ensure that no loudspeaker or public address system shall be used by any person, including religious bodies in temples, mosques and gurdwaras, without written permission of the authority even during the day, that too, by getting an undertaking that the noise level shall not exceed more than 5dB(A) peripheral noise level.
- The state government is directed to ensure that the loudspeaker, public address system, musical instrument and sound amplifier are not played during night time except in auditoria, conference rooms, community halls, banquet halls as per norms laid down under the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000.
- The state government is directed to ensure that loudspeakers or public address systems are not used except between 10 pm to 12 midnight during any cultural or religious festive occasion of a limited duration not exceeding 15 days in all during a calendar year, that too, the noise level shall not exceed 10dB(A) above the ambient noise standards for the area.
The peripheral noise level of a privately-owned sound system or a sound producing instrument shall not, at the boundary of the private place, exceed by more than 5dB(A). The authority concerned shall keep on visiting and monitoring at the public places, private places, auditoriums, conference rooms, community halls, banquet halls, temples, mosques and gurdwaras to ensure due compliance of the rules.
- Senior Superintendents of Police/Superintendents of Police must ensure that no horn shall be used in silence zone or during the night between 10 pm to 6 am in residential areas except during public emergency. No sound-emitting construction equipment shall be used or operated during the night between 10 pm to 6 am in residential areas or silence zone.
- Pressure horns are banned through the state.
- Violators will be penalized under the Rule 6 of the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000.
- Senior Superintendents of Police/Superintendents of Police and Circle Officers must ensure that motorcycles throughout the state are duly fitted with silencers to avoid noise pollution and menace.
Read the Order Here