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Bombay High Court warns state over illegal pandals

The Bombay high court has asked the state to ensure that no illegal pandal comes up, at least in major cities such as Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai and Pune. If the state fails to do so, the court will initiate contempt proceedings against errant government officers.

The court also expressed displeasure at the state government’s apathy towards compliance of its orders on noise pollution. Mean-while, the state government informed the court that it had identified 110 silence zones in Mumbai and the process was still underway.

The court noted that civic bodies and other authorities had been “tolerating” such unauthorised structures on public roads. It said that the government must comply with its previous orders on illegal pandals, else face contempt proceedings.

A division bench of Justices A.S. Oka and Riyaz Chagla said that it had directed the government and civic bodies on several occasions to take strict action against illegal pandals erected on public roads during festivals as they obstructed traffic.

“As of Tuesday, there is no substantial compliance with our orders. There has been a failure on the part of local authorities to take action against illegal pandals. Illegal pandals are being tolerated by civic bodies and other authorities in complete breach of the noise pollution rules and court orders,” the court said.

“We direct the government to report compliance of our orders, at least in major districts like Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Aurangabad, Nashik and Thane. If we find that there is no compliance, then we will be forced to initiate contempt action,” it said.

The bench was hearing petitions seeking implementation of noise pollution rules. The court posted the petitions for further hearing on September 12. Pandals come up in large numbers during the Ganesh and Navratri festivals, which will be celebrated in September and October, respectively.

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