The eastern zonal bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has said no effective action has been taken by police to check noise pollution in Kolkata and the rest of Bengal.
The bench of Justice B. Amit Sthalekar and expert member Saibal Dasgupta on Monday described as “an eyewash” the monitoring of noise pollution by the police.
“It is mentioned that 800 Sound Level Meters and 800 Sound Level Calibrators have been distributed among the police stations, including the traffic units, for its use in different districts of West Bengal. Prima facie, we find that 800 Sound Level Meters and 800 sound calibrators in the entire state and all the districts and police commissionerates… are absolutely an eyewash and… insufficient for purposes of measuring and monitoring noise pollution in the state,” reads the order delivered on Monday.
“We also find that this affidavit does not anywhere mention whether sound limiters have been installed as directed in various judgments passed by the NGT, principal bench.”
The bench said that an earlier order had called for exploring the possibility of whether manufacturers could be asked to produce audio systems fitted with noise control devices and pointed out that the affidavit by the police “is silent in this regard”.
“This shows that no effective action has been taken towards control and checking of noise pollution,” says the order.
Environment activist Subhas Datta, petitioner in this case, said: “The order ratifies our complaints that noise pollution laws are being violated and the police and the rest of the administration are not only silent spectators but also abettors to the crime.”
“According to noise rules, the main responsibility of enforcing noise rules lies with the police, but the pollution control board, too, has an important role to play,” said Biswajit Mukherjee, former chief law officer of state PCB.
Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya, lawyer, former Kolkata mayor and Rajya Sabha MP, was on Monday accused of violating noise norms as he addressed a Left employees’ union on the College Street campus of Kolkata University using a microphone and two large sound boxes.
Use of microphones are barred within 100 metres of educational institutes, Mukherjee, former chief law officer of state PCB. Bhattacharyya admitted that he spoke on the microphone but claimed that “requisite permission was taken from the authorities”.
A senior university official, who refused to be identified, said: “We cannot give such permissions.”
No permission was taken from us, said a police officer of Jorasanko police station.