Mumbai: Bring down noise pollution levels during festivals, the Bombay High Court sternly told the Maharashtra government on Friday while giving a last chance to the Chief Secretary to file an affidavit identifying officers responsible for not implementing court directives on the issue.
A division bench of Justices A S Oka and Revati Mohite- Dere had on June 24 come down heavily on the state government and warned of initiating contempt proceedings against those officers who failed to follow its previous orders.
The court then directed the chief secretary to file an affidavit by today giving the names and designations of the errant officers.
Advocate General Anil Singh today informed the court that the affidavit could not be filed as the chief secretary is not available and is abroad.
The bench today while adjourning the matter till July 9 said, "this is the last chance we are giving the chief secretary to file the affidavit with the details sought."
The court had on the last hearing observed that the government was taking the High Court orders casually.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Dr Mahesh Bedekar from neighbouring Thane district, raising concern over the nuisance created by various organisers of religious festivals with regard to noise pollution and erection of mandaps and pandals (makeshift structures) on streets and footpaths.
On the last hearing, the court while citing a Supreme Court judgement had observed that the fundamental right of practising or professing religion did not extend to "any and every place".
It had said that while the civic bodies can grant permission for construction of temporary pandals during festivals like Ganpati or Navratri, these structures should not be erected on public roads and pavements.
This year in March, the high court observed that every citizen has a fundamental right to silence and to live in peace and comfort and the same cannot be disturbed by organisers celebrating various religious festivals.
The court had then asked the government to frame a policy and set up a redressal mechanism by which common citizen can lodge complaints on which prompt action should be taken by authorities concerned before the festivals get over.
However, the court was informed at a previous hearing that no such policy had been framed by the government.
Meanwhile, the Thane Municipal Corporation today submitted an affidavit in response to the petition stating that it has set up a toll free helpline number and an email-id for citizens to lodge complaints regarding noise pollution and unauthorised structures.
"Directions have been issued to all authorities concerned to keep appropriate register of all the complaints received and to take the complaints to its logical end by taking appropriate steps in accordance with law," the affidavit filed by Manisha Pradhan, Pollution Control Officer of TMC, said.
It added that a policy has also been framed for erection of mandaps and pandals keeping the high court directives in mind.