UP government’s attempts to curb noise pollution is feeble and weak : Allahabad High Court

The Allahabad High Court has questioned the intention of the Uttar Pradesh government to curb noise pollution, saying its attempts have been feeble and nothing much appeared to have been done to control the menace.

The court said if the state government was not able to control noise pollution why does it not imposes a blanket ban on the use of loudspeakers in the state, like beacon lights.

It said the directions issued by the government on January 4 in pursuance of the court’s December 20 order to curb noise pollution were toothless and appeared to be of little use unless the check mechanisms were put in place.

The court came down heavily on the government and said that its attempts have been “feeble and weak” and nothing much appeared to have been done, except indicating that almost all loudspeakers were installed with permission from the competent authority.

Hearing a PIL seeking a ban on unauthorised use of loudspeakers at religious places, wedding ceremonies and other events, the Lucknow bench of justices Vikram Nath and Abdul Moin in their February 13 order said: “Needless to mention that despite issue of the order on December 20, 2017, the things have not changed even an iota, rather persons indulging in noise pollution have now become even more brazen about it.”

The court had issued detailed directives on December 20 on a PIL moved by lawyer Moti Lal Yadav to curb noise pollution because of the use of loudspeakers across the state.

It had said the issue was “very serious” and should be dealt with an iron hand. It had asked the government whether it had permitted the use of loudspeakers at religious places, and if not, why action has not been taken under relevant laws.

Present before the court, Principal Secretary (Home), Arvind Kumar, placed a government order issued on January 4 and tried to convey that the government had made it mandatory to obtain license before using loudspeakers at religious places or during celebrations, including marriage functions.

Reacting critically to the government order, the bench said: “The government order of January 4 appears to give a blanket permission without any check or control on the persons seeking to install loudspeakers or who have already installed loudspeakers. Such blanket permission, in our considered opinion and that too without having any checking mechanism, is simply an attempt for a sham compliance of the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000.”

The court said that without a check mechanism, the attempt to control noise pollution was a sham and hence if the government cannot have a fool-proof mechanism to control noise pollution, it should impose a complete ban on loudspeakers.

For this, the bench suggested, suitable changes can be made to the Environmental Protection Act – like the Union government did with the Central Motor Vehicle Act to ban the use of beacon lights.

“However, the same being a legislative function we cannot issue any direction at this stage but leave it to the collective wisdom of the government more particularly seeing the rampant noise pollution prevailing throughout the state”, it said.

The court summoned the principal secretary (home) and chairperson of the UP Pollution Control Board on March 12 to inform it about the development in the matter at the level of the government. It said it expects the state government to make a serious endeavour to tackle noise pollution.

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