Religious leaders have hailed the UP government move to remove unauthorized loudspeakers following Allahabad High Court order on noise pollution but have urged authorities to ensure there is no pick and choose in giving permission for use of loudspeakers. They have also sought extension of the registration deadline.
“We welcome the order and have already issued appeal to imams of the mosques to fill up the form provided by the government for permission,” said Maulana Khalid Rasheed Farangi Mahali adding, “My only concern is that we have been given too short a notice to comply with the order and that there should be no pick and choose in giving permission.”
Fr Donald De Souza, spokesperson of the Catholic Diocese, said he too was all for the order if it applied to all religious places of worship. He, however, said he was yet to receive a notice in this regard. “We will surely comply with it if it is for the good of the society but under no circumstances the rights of the minorities should be infringed upon,” he said.
President of Lucknow Gurudawara Prabandhak Committee Sardar Rajendra Singh Bagga said cacophony had no place in a religion and that he welcomed the order.
“We took down our loudspeakers long time ago and now use only indoor public address system ever since some people complained about the noise,” said Diwakar Tripathi, secretary of the well-known Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple in Lucknow.
Uttar Pradesh government has set January 10 deadline for completion of a survey and plans to remove loudspeakers installed without permission from January 15. Lucknow, according to figures available with waqf board and Lucknow Nagar Nigam, has over 2,000 religious places of worship. This includes around 1,000 mosques, 1005 temples, 40 gurudwaras and 25 churches. “Visiting all of them in just two days is impossible,” admits a senior police officer but says a call on extending the deadline would have to be taken either by the state government or the court.
Even if the survey is completed, the district administration is yet to get its act together in appointing a nodal officer and allocating staff for dealing with the surfeit of applications seeking permission for use of loudspeakers. Moreover, what would happen to those who flout the order?
“We will take action against them under relevant provisions of the law on noise pollution,” said SSP Deepak Kumar.
“The rules are very clear on noise pollution and use of loudspeakers under the Noise Pollution and Environment Protection Act,” says Shazaan Alam, a lawyer of the High Court in Lucknow.
He said while no loudspeaker or public address system could be used without written permission from the authorities, there was a blanket ban on their use from 10 pm to 6 am.