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Civic body to introduce 1,195 silent zones

Despite loud protests from corporators, PMC to go ahead with plan after Diwali

AS the city has seen a rise in decibel levels in the past couple of years, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has identified 1,195 silent zones and decided to put up signboards at these spots in an effort to check sound pollution.

The plan had met with such resistance from the Congress and other Opposition parties in the civic house that the move got delayed, but the PMC is now firm on implementing the decision after Diwali.


A silent zone signboard opposite the Ruby Hall Clinic

According to the PMC, decibel levels in some parts of the city are currently at 70, which is 20 decibels more than what it should be.

Municipal Commissioner Mahesh Pathak, who has also served as the principal secretary of the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), has decided to go ahead and implement the silent zones in the city. The zones identified are primarily near schools, religious structures and hospitals.

"We were planning to enforce the silent zones stringently in Pune, but the proposal that was tabled in the General Body meeting two days ago was strongly opposed by the Congress and other Opposition parties," Pathak said.
 
"We have now decided to take a call and go ahead with the plan despite the opposition." Pathak added that the civic body would be spending Rs 20 lakh from other expense heads to implement the silent zones decision.

Leader of the Opposition in the civic house Aba Bagul said he and the other politicians were not against the basic idea, but only wanted to know how the silent zones were being identified in a city dotted with educational, religious and healthcare institutions.

"We are not opposing the idea per se but we need to know what defines a silent zone. Every 10 metres there is a school, religious structure or hospital and it will become difficult for drivers to move through the city if there are silent zones everywhere," he said.
 
"Even at busy places like Laxmi Road, where there are temples and roads, it is not possible to maintain the silent zone. We need to take a call on where there needs to be a silent zone and which areas can be left out."

According to the decibel norms set by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the decibel levels for silent zones should be restricted to 50 during the day and 40 at night.

Head of the PMC environmental cell Mangesh Dighe said sound pollution in the city had reached a level where intervention was required to set things right.

"The CPCB and the MPCB have given clear norms to define a silent zone and we are just following these norms. The decibel level in the old parts of the city now is 70.

We need to install boards and take legal action against anyone who violates the norms," Dighe said. "Political parties may have several reasons to oppose this move, but this time we are not going to delay it further."

Dighe said of the 1,195 silent zones identified, the civic body would begin installing signboards at 800 such places from next month.

Break-up of silent zones
Around schools: 687
Around colleges: 230
Around hospitals: 201 
Around courts: 77 
Total: 1,195

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