Pune: Akhil Bharatiya Grahak Panchayat Files PIL in Bombay High Court Against Noise Pollution and Hazardous Laser Beams During Festivals and Events

Bombay High Court

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Mumbai, 10th October 2023 – Akhil Bharatiya Grahak Panchayat has taken a significant step in addressing the escalating issue of noise pollution and the use of hazardous laser beams during festivals, events, and processions by filing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Bombay High Court.

For decades, the general public has endured extreme sound pollution, primarily during religious festivals, political events, and various processions and events. The Ganesh Festival of 2023 witnessed an alarming increase in hazardous sound pollution levels in several metro cities across Maharashtra, including Pune, Mumbai, Nashik, and Sambhajinagar. These unprecedented noise levels led to severe health consequences, with reports of deaths attributed to sound pollution and individuals suffering from eye damage due to hazardous laser beams.

The PIL challenges the lack of action on the part of the respondents, highlighting the impunity enjoyed by violators. The respondents in the petition include the State of Maharashtra, the Department of Law and Justice (State of Maharashtra), the Department of Environment and Climate Change (State of Maharashtra), the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, the Central Pollution Control Board (Union of India), and the Police Department of Maharashtra State.

The petition emphasizes that no religion permits the violation of laws for celebrating religious festivals. The Honorable Supreme Court has already clarified that the use of loudspeakers is not an essential part of any religion and, therefore, does not fall under the protection of Article 25 (Freedom of Religion) of the Constitution of India.

Furthermore, the PIL underscores that the issue is not confined to a specific religion or festival but pertains to noise pollution in all its forms. The recent Ganesh Festival and Eid Festival saw the widespread use of sound systems emitting dangerously high levels of noise, adversely affecting citizens, senior citizens, children, and individuals with underlying health conditions. Tragically, these violations resulted in the loss of lives in many locations.

The petition also raises concerns about the extension of sound system usage hours until midnight during festivals. District collectors, such as those in Pune, issued notifications extending the time limit for sound system use. However, these notifications are considered illegal, as they exceed the powers granted to district collectors, and relaxation cannot be given on a district-wide basis.

The PIL highlights the double burden faced by the common people, as not only are permitted noise levels violated by sound system operators but people are also subjected to hazardous noise pollution beyond midnight.

The petition emphasizes the need for stringent enforcement of Noise Pollution Rules 2000, which are mandatory. Violations of these rules have been reported, particularly in Pune, where permitted noise levels were flagrantly exceeded.

The PIL also draws attention to the unlawful use of hazardous laser beams during processions and events, causing permanent eye damage to individuals. The absence of regulations for laser beam usage and the lack of enforcement by authorities are major concerns.

Akhil Bharatiya Grahak Panchayat, through its Organizer, Vijay Ganpati Sagar, is leading this legal battle to ensure the well-being of citizens and the protection of their right to a peaceful and pollution-free environment.

Advocate Satya Muley, who represents the petitioner, underscores the importance of implementing existing laws and regulations and holding violators accountable. The petition seeks strict enforcement of Noise Pollution (Control) Rules 2000, the Environment Protection Act 1986, and the imposition of penalties on offenders. It also calls for a comprehensive ban on the sale, lease, import, manufacturing, and use of loudspeakers and sound systems emitting noise beyond the permitted limits.

The petition aims to prompt the authorities to address the issue of noise pollution comprehensively and protect the rights of citizens to a peaceful and safe environment.