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: