Sound is essential to our daily lives, but noise is not. Noise is generally used as an unwanted sound or sound which produces unpleasant effects and discomfort on the ears. Sound becomes unwanted when it either interferes with normal activities such as sleeping, conversation, or disrupts or diminishes one’s quality of life.
To control the noise level in public places from various sources, inter alia, industrial activity, construction activity, generator sets, loudspeakers, public address system, music systems, vehicular horns, and other mechanical devices Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 has been enacted by the GOI in exercise of its powers conferred under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. Rule 5 restricts the use of loud speakers/public address system and sound producing equipments. A written permission is necessary for using such equipment. The authority for the implementation of the said Noise Rules is the District Magistrate, Police Commissioner and other officer not below the rank of DSP. The help of the State Pollution Control Boards’ are sought to measure the noise level and violators are prosecuted by the said Police Officials before the concerned Magistrate Court.
Religious places are considered as silent zones, wherein the maximum permissible sound is 50 dB (A)/ Leq during day time and 40 dB (A)/ Leq during night. The above restriction applies to all institutions around 100 metres. What is 50 dB? The sound which is necessary for communication in between two persons. A loudspeaker which is capable of sound producing for communication within a hall will alone will be possible. The practice of installing loudspeaker to produce noise outside the said premises within 100 metres may amount to violation
Now Uttar Pradesh government recently issued detailed directives on the use of permanently installed loudspeakers at public places in the state, after receiving flak from the Allahabad High Court over noise pollution in UP. High Court last month had asked the Uttar Pradesh government, whether the loudspeakers or public address systems installed at mosques, temples, churches, gurdwaras etc. were installed after obtaining a written permission from the authorities concerned. The Govt. is actually seeking strict compliance of the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules that had been framed in 2000.
In the light of above why we cannot have complete ban on the use of loudspeaker instead of partial ban or to be restricted to some decibels. The loudspeakers installed in public places can not have sound level more than 10 dB above ambient noise level at the periphery of a public place and 5 dB above ambient noise level at the periphery of a private place. The State Government has been empowered to grant permission to use loudspeaker on or during any cultural or religious festive occasion of limited duration not exceeding fifteen days in all during the calendar year. But such relaxation is not permissible between 10.00.P.M and 12 midnight. I think there is no need of such relaxation and needs complete ban of loudspeakers irrespective of any religion, caste or bar.
The Noise Law is blatantly violated by many including under the guise of religious festivals A question has been raised before the Supreme Court by a religious body can it be said that using of the loud speakers is the exercise of the religious freedom enshrined under the Constitution of India . SC has held that no religion prescribed that prayers should not be performed by distributing the peace of others nor does it preach that they should be through voice-amplifiers or beating of drums. In the name of religion nobody can be permitted to add to noise pollution or violate noise pollution norms. Even if there be religious practice to use voice amplifiers, it should not adversely affect rights of others including that of being nor disturbed in their activities.
Under Art.21 of the Constitution, the citizens have a right of a decent environment and they have a right to live peacefully, right to sleep at night and to have a right to leisure which are all necessary ingredients of the right to life guaranteed under Art. Silence Zone is the area comprising not less than 100 meters around hospitals, Educational Institutions, Courts, Religious places or any other area which is declared as such by the Competent Authority.
They intrude the private spaces of people and cause nagging discomfort. They have a complete disregard for sick, studying and sleeping. They don’t pray, they actually perform, and this performance comes at the cost of common sense, decency and civic rights. Who gives them the right to disturb others; can we ask this simple question with all seriousness, and humility. Why should my prayers, my way of getting closer to God, my obligations towards my religion, and my proclivity to say hymns loudly, be a source of vexation for someone else. Is religion oblivious to decency, common sense and human comfort?
In the name of religion this practice of disturbing people must stop, and for that these people need to be confronted at all levels. It is good that some of our religious scholars have openly talked about these things. We have people that still resort to this practice of using loudspeakers, and releasing loads of noise into the atmosphere. They bring disgrace to the whole institution of prayer, besides causing inconvenience to the people in the vicinity. And if you decently ask them to switch off the loudspeakers they swiftly call it an act of irreverence and sacrilege. They make it such an emotive affair that one doesn’t want to argue with them any further; least of all at a public space. But does that mean we should tolerate it for ever; when it brings disgrace and disrepute to a religion and as a community.
Decency is a universal value. Common sense is another such value. Similarly, being mindful of others should be a cardinal teaching for every religion. All the three are violated by these people, and shockingly they do it in the name of religion. Can this be the way to please God, and seek his fellowship?
Our civil society groups, media, religious seminaries, religious organisations, and persons who are respected for their knowledge and integrity, are duty-bounden to rid us from this discomfort. They have a duty to salvage their faiths from the label of being an irritant in the public space. All must come forward to ensure that decency and common sense are restored to our religious practices. We don’t expect such an inappropriate thing from them. Seminaries must also come forward and educate people on this and no surprises if the government chips in. A decent debate should take off on all such matters.
These people have no regard for the sick, students and those who are sleeping. I take this opportunity to appeal all other religions/communities not to use the loudspeakers beyond a specific limit as to respect the decency, comfort of others, as no religion is unmindful to decency, common sense and human comfort. Even in Hindu religion also, service to mankind is service to God and by using loud speakers at high pitch is only causing disservice to society and how a disservice to sick, student and sleeping can be service to God, as all these people are also his men. After all the silence is the best sound and does not need any instrument but one need to move within.
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