In the wake of loudspeaker row in Karnataka, the state government on Tuesday, May 10, issued a circular with a set of directions on the use of loudspeakers and to remove them if they were not authorised by the 'designated authority.' The circular, came into effect immediately, said all existing users of loudspeakers, public address system and sound-producing instruments should obtain written permission from the Designated Authority within 15 days.
Those, who do not obtain permission, should voluntarily remove loudspeakers, public address system and sound-producing instruments or else the same shall be removed by the designated authority within 15 days from the deadline given, it added. The government ordered setting up committees at different levels to decide the application of loudspeaker or public address system.
The circular says that a loudspeaker or public address system cannot be used at night between 10 pm and 6 am, except in closed rooms for communication â€” auditoriums, conference rooms, community halls and banquet halls.
In police commissionerate areas, the committee would comprise assistant commissioner of police, jurisdictional executive engineer of the city Corporation and a representative of the State pollution control board. In other areas, deputy superintendents of police, the jurisdictional Tehsildar and a representative of the State pollution control board.
Citing the Supreme Court ruling dated July 18, 2005 and October 28, 2005 regarding the implementation of the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000, the circular said the loudspeaker or the public address system should not be used except after obtaining permission from the designated authority.
Non-compliance to the provisions of the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000, Government Order dated August 13, 2002 and directions above shall attract penal action in accordance with Section 15, 19 and 24 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, the circular said.
The circular was issued by an under-secretary to the government following a note sent by the State Chief Secretary P Ravi Kumar to the Additional Chief Secretary Jawaid Akhtar, Forest, Ecology and Environment Department to tackle the issue. It comes after some Hindu groups, mainly Sriram Sena, Bajrang Dal and Hindu Janajagruthi Samithi had recorded versions or bhajans being recited by those present being played at temples from 5 am at the temples to counter azaan from mosques.
The decibel limits are being fixed for industrial areas (75 decibels in the morning and 70 decibels in the evening). In commercial areas, it is fixed at 55 decibels and 65 decibels in the morning and night. For residential areas, it is fixed at 55 decibels during the day and 45 decibels at night. In silent zones, it is 50 decibels in the morning and 40 decibels at night, Singh said.
As the controversy peaked, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai held a meeting on Monday, following which the Chief Secretary issued a note to Akhtar and later the government issued a circular.
Reacting to the order, Karnataka Minister for Environment, Ecology and Tourism Anand Singh said the religious institutions have to abide by the rule. If they break the law related to restrictions after certain time, then action will be taken, he told reporters.
It is applicable to temples, mosques, churches or any marriage ceremony. There are restrictions, which have to be abided by. If any local resident lodges a complaint, action will be taken against them, the Minister said.