BENGALURU: City police have powers to crack down on sound pollution, but they have no tangible action to show. The reason: they lack equipment to measure noise levels. With police claiming that the necessary equipment is with the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), whose officials are not available after 6pm, what will the guardians of law do when they receive complaints about bars and restaurants kicking up a din after dusk? The question was raised on Thursday by a division bench headed by Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka which was hearing a PIL over sound pollution caused by pubs and restaurants in Indiranagar .The chief justice noted that in the present scenario, if police receive a complaint in the night and by the time they reach the spot, the noise problem may not be there at all. Police, who are vested with ample power under the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules-2000 has to acquire equipments, he said. A specific statement should be made in this regard by next week. ‘Status report lacks details’ The court, which is hearing the PIL filed by the Defence Colony Residents’ Association and other RWAs against over 100 pubs and bars located in an area spread over 2km radius in Indiranagar area, had earlier asked police to submit a status report. “It’s nothing but an eyewash,” the bench observed, after looking at the report. The court noted that the report was a general statement which lacked specific response regarding officers undertaking surprise visits to those pubs/bars. The court pulled up police for inaction and ill-preparedness in handling pollution and hinted that it may ask the police commissioner to appear if proper response is not forthcoming by the next date of hearing. Noting that the cases have been registered on the charge of creating nuisance, the bench wondered as to how the authorities can determine nuisance without even recording noise level. The petitioner associations have claimed that as per the Revised Master Plan 2015, residential (main), residential (mixed), parks and open spaces, traffic, transportation and public utilities constitute 76 percent of the proposed land use in Indiranagar area. According to them, mushrooming of commercial establishments has resulted in spike in crimes and also activities like drug peddling in the residential area. They have prayed the court to direct the authorities not to issue licences for selling intoxicants in the area. They also wanted closing down of establishments which have flouted rules. Witness test Police said the panchas, the five witnesses they take during spot inquests, play a crucial role in determining the level of sound pollution. “We ask witnesses to stand 100feet away from the spot and tell us if there is any noise. After reaching the spot, they close their ears and record the sound. If its unbearable, they record the same in their statement,” sources said. Over the past few years, police use many mobile phone applications of decibel level detectors for investigations.
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June 18, 2019
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