The permanent stage for open-air soirees at Citizens’ Park, metres away from Victoria Memorial and SSKM Hospital. Picture by Sanat Kumar Sinha
A seven-night cultural programme is being held in Citizens’ Park, within 100 metres of SSKM Hospital, violating noise norms, since last Tuesday.
The open-air event marks the inauguration of a permanent stage in the park, which is in the green zone around Victoria Memorial. There are plans to hold more such programmes throughout the year.
On Monday, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who is also the police minister, is slated to attend the closing ceremony of the programme, whose organiser — Association of Professional Performing Singers — has not obtained the mandatory clearance from the cops.
“We have not permitted the use of loudspeakers at the Citizens’ Park programme,” police commissioner Gautam Mohan Chakrabarti told Metro.
According to Noise (Regulation and Control) Act, 2000, open-air programmes where loudspeakers are used can only be organised after taking permission from the appropriate local authorities, in this case, Calcutta police. Moreover, the use of loudspeakers is banned in the silence zone within 100metres of a hospital.
Metro found that 15 large speakers and 50 smaller speakers were being used for the programme on Friday and Sunday evening. One of the smaller speakers was barely 30 metres from SSKM Hospital.
The park, which belongs to the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC), has been leased out to Bengal Shelter for maintenance.
The CMC authorities refused to shoulder the blame for the violation. “Since we have leased the park out to Bengal Shelter, it is their responsibility to obtain the necessary permissions from the appropriate authorities, be it the pollution control board or the police,” said Faiyaz Ahmed Khan, the mayoral council member (parks and gardens) of the CMC.
A Bengal Shelter spokesperson said the company was not aware that a permit from the police is a must to use loudspeakers. “We will definitely take the necessary permissions in future,” he said.
Singer Sibaji Chattapadhyay, the secretary of the association that organised the programme, claimed that the body was keeping a tab on the noise level.
Environment activist Subhas Dutta said the open-air programme violates a high court directive “in spirit”.
“The court had ordered for a triple-layer green belt to be set up around Victoria Memorial to protect the monument from dust. Instead of the green belt, the authorities came up with a fancy garden, which has now become an entertainment park,” said Dutta, on whose PIL the order was passed.