In a first, the umbrella body for Ganesh mandals in the city has directed members to control sound levels during Ganeshotsav. Mandals have been asked to download noise-measuring applications on their smartphones to check and curtail high-decibel noise levels during the 10-day festival, which begins on September 5.
Officials from the Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samnvay Samiti (BSGSS) told HT that at their meeting with the trusts on Wednesday, they were told that noise rules should not be broken.
“We have told all mandals in the city that they have to abide by Bombay high court orders. We will make sure there are no violations this year,” said Naresh Dahibhawkar, president, BSGSS. “We held the meeting a fortnight before the festival so there is enough time for each mandal to check lapses and make arrangements.”
Ganeshotsav was a noisy affair last year. On the last day of the festival, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), found Juhu beach to be noisiest at 112.6 dB, followed by Girgaum Chowpatty at 107.4 dB. The maximum sound levels in commercial areas is 65 dB during the day and 55 dB at night. In residential areas, it is 55 dB and 45 dB.
This week, the Bombay high court raised concerns over the increasing sound levels in the city and the lax enforcement of Noise Pollution Rules, 2000. “Notwithstanding several detailed orders by this court, there is large-scale violation of Noise Pollution Rules, especially during religious festivals,” said the division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Amjad Sayed.
Mandal have been directed to avoid the use of loudspeakers in areas marked as silence zones, avoid traffic blocks and adhere to time limits on use of loudspeakers.
“Committee office bearers have been asked to give badges to mandal representatives so that people causing noise-related problems can be identified,” said Dahibhawkar. He added that many groups come to the city from other parts of the state and are unaware of the rules.
Mumbai police said special squads will be deputed at every police station to check violations. “If there is a violation of noise norms prescribed under the Noise Pollution Rules, 2000, we will initiate strict action against the mandal. Specialised squads will work in coordination with the MPCB to respond to complaints, check noise levels and take action,” said Ashok Dudhe, spokesperson, Mumbai police.
Members of the Lalbaugcharaja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal said they banned the use of loudspeakers and only a public address system would be used to help devotees navigate during the festival. “All the rules will be followed. We have already asked all mandal members to download noise-measuring apps,” said Balasaheb S Kamble, president of the mandal.