Tweaking of rules leaves city without a single silence zone

Noise Pollution Act Change Before Festive Season A Big Worry For Citizens
The city does not have a single silence zone following amendments in the noise pollution act last week.The Pune Municipal Corporation had declared 1,195 silence zones in the city , including 687 schools, 230 colleges, 201 hospitals and 77 courts. But they cease to exist after the Centre made amendments in the pollution act, according to which the state has to notify the silence zones.

Mangesh Dighe, the environment officer of the PMC, confirmed that there was no silence zone in the city specifically notified directly by the state government. The PMC is now waiting for the state’s locationspecific notifications.

Dighe said, “We notified the silence zones based on the set procedures. These are not based on the new amendments. The future course of action about defining these zones will be taken after the directives of the state government.“

Citizens are now dreading rampant violation of sound norms during the festive season. “Even patients and students would not be spared now,“ acitizen said.

The Centre made changes to the law last week. The matter came to the fore on Wednesday when the state government in formed the Bombay high court that the noise pollution rules of 2000 under the Environment Protection Act stood amended in respect of silence zones.

The state’s advocate-general, Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, told a bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Riyaz Chagla that “unless the state notifies an area as a silence zone, it may not be possible to consider that area as one.“ He submitted the government’s affidavit with a copy of the August 10 notification issued by the Union ministry of environment, forests and climate change in the official gazette, whereby Noise Pollution Rules of 2000 stood “substantially amended“.

As per the affidavit, the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Amendment Rules 2017 came into force from August 10 and “the state is yet to declare any area as a silence zone“.

According to PMC officials, most of the current silence zones in the city are within 100 metres of educational institutions, hospitals, religious places and courts. They must be considered afresh by the state.

Though the city has no silence zone according to the new ru les, those celebrating festivals will not get a free hand for violating the current silence zones.In their order, the judges made it clear that all directions issued under the final judgment and order of the court in August 2016 not affected by the amendment of 2017 would continue to apply .

An official of the PMC’s anti-encroachment department said, “We have drafted the norms for mandals about the pandals, traffic management and sound limits. They are based on 2016 orders by the court and subsequent GRs issued by the state government.“

Source : TOI