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Noise activist’s secular stand stumps Shiv Sena
Friday, 22 October 2010 - 12:57am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna Manoj R Nair (/authors/manoj-r-nair)
Stung by the police case registered against it for violating noise pollution rules during its October 17 Dussehra rally at Shivaji Park, the Shiv Sena accused anti-noise campaigners of ignoring loud azaans or call to prayers from the city’s mosques.
Stung by the police case registered against it for violating noise pollution (/topic/noise-pollution) rules during its October 17 Dussehra rally at Shivaji Park, the Shiv Sena (/topic/shiv-sena) accused anti-noise campaigners of ignoring loud azaans or call to prayers from the city’s mosques.
The Sena had been given permission to hold the rally on the condition that it will follow the provisions of the Noise Pollution Rules. Sumaira Abdulali of Awaaz Foundation (/topic/awaaz-foundation) measured noise levels at the rally and found that there was a deliberate violation of rules. While the laws permit sound levels of up to 50 dB, the average level of noise at the rally was between 75 and 80 dB, often peaking at 93dB.
Abdulali’s recordings have been included in the complaint filed at the Shivaji Park (/topic/shivaji-park) police station filed by DCP Zone V, Aswati Dorje under the Environment Protection Act and the Bombay Police Act.
The crime is punishable by a fine of up to Rs1 lakh and a jail term of up to five years for organisers of the function, along with the senior party leaders whose speeches crossed permitted levels.
In an editorial in its Wednesday edition, Sena mouthpiece Saamna asked Abdulali why she had not filed complaints against mosques that use loudspeakers. It pointed out that loudspeakers attached to mosques in Bhendi Bazaar (/topic/bhendi-bazaar) and Behrampada are disturbing sleep and children’s studies.
But Abdulali, who has been relentlessly campaigning to create awareness about the health hazards of noise pollution, has not let religion come in her way. As she says, noise is secular by nature and harms people of every community, including Hindus living in Shivaji Park and Muslims in Bhendi Bazaar, leaving them vulnerable to its ill effects.
“The Sena has at last supported my request for banning loudspeakers atop mosques. It took some provocation to reach this point, since as the opposition party, they did nothing to ensure implementation of an affidavit filed by the government over a year ago that all religious places would be declared silence zones — but hope has dawned once more. I do hope the endangered tiger will stop roaring and get down to some action soon,” she said in a letter replying to Sena’s accusations.
She goes on to add: “In 2004, I filed a notice of motion in my pending PIL that loudspeakers at religious places should be banned, supported with data from numerous such places. In 2005, Muslim clerics voluntarily gave up early morning azaans for a brief period when the Supreme Court passed it’s order restricting Ganpati to 10pm, but most resumed after the time was extended (at the request of the state government) up to 12 midnight.
“All communities continue to break the law with impunity, and as usual, the common man suffers so that political parties, for political and commercial gain, can continue to disturb their peace in the name of religious sentiments. When I took the matter to court again in 2009, the government filed an affidavit in the Bombay high court that it will notify religious places as silence zones. But nothing happened.”
Awaaz Foundation's anti- noise pollution campaign has been covered extensively in the Press and media since 2003.