Following Azaan vs Hanuman Chalisa row, Karnataka govt issues directions on loudspeakers

As the row aggravated, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai held a meeting on Monday, following which the Chief Secretary issued a note to Akhtar
Last Updated 10 May 2022, 16:49 IST

The Karnataka government on Tuesday issued a circular mandating all users of loudspeakers and public address systems to seek written permission from the 'designated authority' within 15 days.

The circular was issued after Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai chaired a top-level meeting on Monday to take stock of things after right-wing groups launched a statewide campaign to counter the 'Azaan' at mosques by playing 'Hanuman Chalisa' at temples.

In the police commissionerate limits, a committee consisting of the Assistant Commissioner of Police, a municipal executive engineer and a representative of Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) will decide on applications seeking permission to use loudspeakers or public address systems. In other areas, the committee will have the jurisdictional tahsildhar, deputy superintendent of police and a KSPCB representative, the circular issued by the Forest, Ecology & Environment department said.

According to the circular, the use of loudspeakers between 10 pm and 6 am, except during public emergencies, is banned.

Violators will be prosecuted under Sections 15, 19 and 24 of the Environment Protection Act, 1986, which attracts a maximum five-year imprisonment or a fine of Rs 1 lakh. The DGP, and police commissioners of Bengaluru, Mysuru, Kalaburagi, Belagavi, Hubballi-Dharwad and other officers, not below the rank of DySP, are to act against violators.

"Those who do not obtain permission shall voluntarily remove loud speakers/public address systems and sound producing instruments or else the same shall be removed by the designated authority within 15 days of the deadline given," the circular said.

Based on different areas, ambient noise standards for use of loudspeakers are also prescribed. "The noise level at the boundary of a public place, where loudspeaker or public address system or any other noise source is being used, shall not exceed 10 decibels above the ambient noise standards for the area or 75 decibels, whichever is lower," it said.

Ambient noise standards for silent zones is 50 decibels during day and 40 db at night; in residential areas it is 55 db during day and 45 db during night; in commerical areas it is 65 db during day and 55 db at night; and in industrial areas it is 75 db during day and 70 db at night.

A loudspeaker or public address system is permitted between 10 pm and 6 am only in closed premises for "communication within" such as "auditoria, conference rooms, community halls and banquet halls," the circular said.

(Published 10 May 2022, 13:15 IST)

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