3rd October 2013
Shri Prithviraj Chavan,
Chief Minister, State of Maharashtra,
Hon’ble Minister Shri Prithviraj Chavan,
Ref: News items in various newspapers that restaurants would be allowed to operate 24x7 in Mumbai.
Citizens and citizens’ groups have objected in the past to the BMC about specific restaurants which create noise pollution at night, particularly in Bandra West and Khar. These restaurants and pubs create noise both directly and indirectly, through loudspeakers used within the restaurant, through honking and shouting in the streets while their patrons depart late at night and open-air cleaning of vessels. Residents have also complained of allied issues including law and order issues when restaurants are open late.
We strongly object to a new proposed amendment to the Shops and Establishments Act, recently passed by the Maharashtra State Legislature, to allow restaurants to remain open throughout the night, apparently for the benefit of visiting tourists.
Stakeholders including citizens’ groups were not consulted prior to this decision and the Noise Pollution Rules and allied court orders were also not considered. It is not clear how 70% of residents would offer their consent to the operation of any establishment, given that the noise from traffic spreads a considerable distance away from the establishment itself. In any event, the State is bound to protect the health of the other 30% who might be in a vulnerable condition would be impacted. Residents’ health cannot be given a lower priority than the enjoyment of tourists and this would be specially relevant in the thousands of Silence Zones of Mumbai.
Such a resolution would also actively violate directions of the Supreme Court to the State to prevent noise pollution from honking at night (between 10pm and 6am)
The Supreme Court Order dated 18th July 2005 on noise pollution directs that the State will take an active role to prevent noise pollution, including to enforce their Order stating that no horns will be used in residential areas between 10pm and 6am. It further directs the State to support citizens’ groups engaged in noise pollution control. The Order states:
III. Vehicular Noise
No horn should be allowed to be used at night (between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.) in residential areas except in exceptional circumstances.
1. There is a need for creating general awareness towards the hazardous effects of noise pollution. Suitable chapters may be added in the text-books which teach civic sense to the children and youth at the initial/early level of education. Special talks and lectures be organised in the schools to highlight the menace of noise pollution and the role of the children and younger generation in preventing it. Police and civic administration should be trained to understand the various methods to curb the problem and also the laws on the subject.
2. The State must play an active role in this process. Residents Welfare Associations, Service Clubs and Societies engaged in preventing noise pollution as a part of their projects need to be encouraged and actively involved by the local administration.
3. Special public awareness campaigns in anticipation of festivals, events and ceremonial occasions whereat firecrackers are likely to be used, need to be carried out.
The abovesaid guidelines are issued in exercise of power conferred on this Court under Articles 141 and 142 of the Constitution of India. These would remain in force until modified by this Court or superseded by an appropriate legislation.
1. The States shall make provision for seizure and confiscation of loudspeakers, amplifiers and such other equipments as are found to be creating noise beyond the permissible limits.
2. Rule 3 of the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 makes provision for specifying ambient air quality standards in respect of noise for different areas/zones, categorization of the areas for the purpose of implementation of noise standards, authorizing the authorities for enforcement and achievement of laid down standards. The Central Government/State Governments shall take steps for laying down such standards and notifying the authorities where it has not already been done.
180. Though, the matters are closed in consonance with the directions as above issued in public interest, there will be liberty of seeking further directions as and when required and, in particular, in the event of any difficulty arising in implementing the directions.
The MMRDA is in the active process of preparing the Development Control Map and Rules for Mumbai. Noise pollution is an important factor while determining placement of various infrastructure and establishments and it would be appropriate to take noise into account while permitting any change in Rules which would affect noise pollution levels in Mumbai (already the noisiest city in the world). Therefore, any decision to allow them longer hours for certain establishments can only be determined after a thorough planning exercise including a noise map.
It has been proved beyond any reasonable doubt that the presence of an establishment such as a restaurant or pub in a Silence or Residential Zone would lead to increased use of horns and consequent noise pollution. Citizens and citizens’ groups have actively represented against such noise pollution. I request that the decision to allow restaurants and pubs to remain open all night, which presently rests with you, should be taken in accordance with the direction of the the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. No restaurnats/pubs should be permitted to remain open all night in any Silence or Residential Zone of Mumbai.
1st October 2013
The Chief Controller of Explosives,
A Block CGO Complex, Fifth Floor Seminary Hills,
Dr. V. Rajagopalan,
Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests,
Paryavaran Bhavan, New Delhi.
Mr. R. A Rajeev,
Secretary, Department of Environment,
Government of Maharashtra,
Mr. Satyapal Singh,
Commissioner of Police,
Last year, after a Right to Information application filed by Awaaz Foundation, the Chief Information Commissioner directed that all testing of firecrackers should be put up on the website of PESO. Accordingly, noise level testing for the year 2011.2012 was put up and is available at http://peso.gov.in/PDF/Fireworks_Noise_Level_Test_2011_2012.pdf
Complainant: Ms. Sumaira Abdulali on video conference from NIC-Mumbai Studio; Respondent: Mr. R. N. Jindal, PIO & Additional Director (CP Division); The PIO has given submission and pointed out that the issue of testing of Noise Level for Fire Crackers at manufacturing stage is within the jurisdiction of Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization (PESO) and they are reportedly taking samples from the market and testing them for noise level compliance as per notification of the Government of India of October 1999. He also submits that the right body to put up these reports will be PESO. The PIO has written a letter to PESO on 21/04/2012 and issued a reminder on 19/03/2012. The Commission appreciates the interest taken by the Complainant in getting this report putting this report in the Public Domain and also appreciates the prompt action taken by the PIO for pressing PESO to do this. The Commission is sure that PESO will display this report on its website as early as possible.
Unfortunately, no chemical composition data is available on the PESO website which would be in accordance with the Supreme Court order dated 18th July 2005 that this is the most appropriate way to determine noise levels during stage of manufacture. The Supreme Court Order states:
179. It is hereby directed as under:-
1. On a comparison of the two systems, i.e. the present system of evaluating firecrackers on the basis of noise levels, and the other where the firecrackers shall be evaluated on the basis of chemical composition, we feel that the latter method is more practical and workable in Indian circumstances. It shall be followed unless and until replaced by a better system.
2. The Department of Explosives (DOE) shall undertake necessary research activity for the purpose and come out with the chemical formulae for each type or category or class of firecrackers. The DOE shall specify the proportion/composition as well as the maximum permissible weight of every chemical used in manufacturing firecrackers.
3. The Department of Explosives may divide the firecrackers into two categories- (i) Sound emitting firecrackers, and (ii) Colour/light emitting firecrackers.
4. There shall be a complete ban on bursting sound emitting firecrackers between 10 pm and 6 am. It is not necessary to impose restrictions as to time on bursting of colour/light emitting firecrackers.
5. Every manufacturer shall on the box of each firecracker mention details of its chemical contents and that it satisfies the requirement as laid down by DOE. In case of a failure on the part of the manufacturer to mention the details or in cases where the contents of the box do not match the chemical formulae as stated on the box, the manufacturer may be held liable.
6. Firecrackers for the purpose of export may be manufactured bearing higher noise levels subject to the following conditions: (i) The manufacturer should be permitted to do so only when he has an export order with him and not otherwise;(ii) The noise levels for these firecrackers should conform to the noise standards prescribed in the country to which they are intended to be exported as per the export order; (iii) These firecrackers should have a different colour packing, from those intended to be sold in India; (iv) They must carry a declaration printed thereon something like 'not for sale in India' or 'only for export to country AB' and so on.”
The chemical composition data for the year 2012 available on the PESO website http://peso.gov.in/PDF/Circular_to_Fireworks_Manufactures_in_India_2008.pdf gives general specifications for only 4 varieties of crackers and is not a comprehensive test on the entire chemical composition of any firecracker. Firecracker use in Mumbai is increasing to events all year round and there was extensive firecracker use during the Ganpati festival. It is imperative for this data to be made available to citizens well before the Diwali festival begins so that they may inform themselves of the type of firecrackers they would be permitted to use, both under the Noise Pollution Rules and under the Hazardous Chemicals Rules. The Police too would need this data for their Arms and Ammunition Department to take appropriate action while licensing firecracker dealers. We would be very grateful if this data could be put up on the PESO website at the earliest and be updated regularly thereafter.
Thank you and with regards.