#PrayBeQuiet: Cops are not just mute spectators, but flout noise norms themselves
VIRAT A SINGH | Wed, 19 Apr 2017-07:30am , Mumbai , DNASinger Sonu Nigam's controversial tweets on Monday questioning the need for mosques to use loudspeakers for azaan has once rekindled the debate on noise pollution norms being flouted at religious places or during religious processions. The police have not only been mute bystanders to such violations, but have even been guilty of violations themselves.
On Friday, the Bombay High Court is set to hear a contempt petition filed on noise pollution norms being violated last year during the annual Mahim Dargah festival held in a silence zone, when a procession traditionally begins from Mahim police station and is led by officers from the police station.
On December 13, 2016, activist Sumaira Abdulali took decibel level readings during the inaugural day of the 10-day festival in Mahim honouring Sufi saint Makhdoom Ali Mahimi. She found that noise levels were 117.3 dB, much higher than the 50 dB level permitted in any silence zone. There is a balwadi (pre-school for underpriviledged children) as well as a mosque near the police station.
The petition filed by the activist was admitted by the HC on April 12, and the first hearing will be held on Friday.
"This was not the first time that there was a violation. I have been taking these readings since 2010, and every year, locals file several complaints. Loudspeakers and brass bands are played, and all this takes place right inside the police station as well as outside of it. I had even complained to the cops present at the police station, but they all claim that this is 'tradition'," said Abdulali.
She added that when she showed the high decibel level readings to a policeman, he replied that since it was a traditional event and the balwadi next door was closed, the procession was allowed to continue.
After Abdulali and several other activists submitted affidavits in the HC about noise pollution rules being flouted in Mumbai, Thane and other places — despite clear court directives on loudspeakers being banned in silence zones — the court had asked the activists to file contempt petitions. Around five or six such petitions were filed, and were clubbed together by the court. These contempt petitions will be up for hearing on Friday.
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Awaaz Foundation's anti- noise pollution campaign has been covered extensively in the Press and media since 2003.