The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sound of revelry in silence zone
- College Square mikes plague patients

THE CHARGES: That the College Square Sarbojanin Durgotsab Committee, of which Congress leader Somen Mitra is president, infringes on the silence zone specified by the Central pollution control board. The board specifies that within 100 metres of any hospital, educational institution or court, there should be no disturbance through the use of microphones, amplifiers or beating of drums.

6Boundary wall to boundary wall, the distance between College Square and Calcutta Medical College and Hospital is less than the distance specified by the pollution control board. Though the main pandal is removed from the hospital, lights and microphones are set up around the boundary of College Square, which disturb patients

6The pavement, as well as a portion of College Street, is encroached upon, causing traffic jams and sound and air pollution. Besides, the honking of stranded car horns can be a nightmare for patients

SOMEN MITRA’S DEFENCE: If you talk of sound and air pollution, then no puja can be held anywhere in Calcutta. Pujas are a time of festivity and merriment. How can you have merriment without lights and music'

I know that the Pujas are held in close proximity to the hospital. But never in the past 55 years of the festivities here have we been told that they have upset any patient at the hospital. Neither has anyone from the hospital complained about any inconvenience being caused.

It is true that we do instal microphones and loudspeakers. They are an integral part of any Puja. But we do not play crass music. It is the soothing shehnai that is played in the mornings and the dhaks are played in the evenings during arati.

But whoever said that we cross the decibel level' I do admit that within a silence zone, there should be no sound at all. I suppose, some liberties are allowed during the Pujas.

But I will dispute the allegation that we encroach on the pavement and the road. We put up barricades along the pavements and the road in public interest. We do not want people spilling onto the road, as this may cause accidents. I think if the entire matter is seen in this light, then the people will forgive us for eating into public space.

If we had really been flouting the rules — which I will admit are only bent a bit — then the police and other law-enforcing agencies would have been after us by now. But, in all these years, they have done nothing of the sort.

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