Green Tribunal ticks off Bengal poll panel’s sound relaxation order

12-35-16-The-National-Green-Tribunal

By bappaditya paul

THE NATIONAL GREEN TRIBUNAL (NGT) on Monday stayed an order of the West Bengal State Election Commission (SEC) that had granted relaxation on micronephone use for civic poll campaigns during the ongoing exam season.

Mr Justice Pratap Kumar Ray and expert member Prof P C Mishra of the NGT eastern zonal bench granted the stay following a petition filed by Kolkata-based environmentalist Subash Dutta.

Mr Dutta had filed a petition on 7 April challenging the jurisdiction of the Bengal poll panel in granting relaxation in sound norms and the NGT bench took it up for hearing today.

Besides the noise pollution norms, a 2013 order of the West Bengal government bars use of microphones in open space from three days before a major exam until the last day and  the SEC move had violated that order, the environmentalist had pleaded.

Environmentalist Subash Dutta. File photo.
Environmentalist Subash Dutta. File photo.

Bengal state election commissioner Sushanta Ranjan Upadhaya said that they would not challenge the stay and were instead issuing a fresh notice to all political parties apprising of the development.   

“We are yet to get the Green Tribunal order in writing but our lawyer has informed that the Tribunal has put a stay on the relaxation in microphone use that we had granted. We have decided not to challenge it and are sending out a fresh notice to all political parties asking them to adhere to the prescribed Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules 2000 for poll campaigns,” Mr Upadhaya said Monday evening.

Copies of the notice are expected to reach all political parties by tomorrow.  

This effectively means political parties and civic poll candidates cannot use microphones for election campaigns in an open space until the ongoing CBSE exam is over.

The Bengal poll panel had on 1 April issued an order allowing the use of microphones for poll campaigns, albeit with some riders. 

The order that became effective from 2 April, said that political parties and poll candidates were allowed to use microphones from 3 pm to 10 pm on weekdays and from 10 am to 10 pm on holidays.

It had also stated that mikes could not be used within 200 metres of an educational institution.

Civic polls in Kolkata are slated for 18 April, while elections to another 91 civic bodies in Bengal are scheduled on 25 April.

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