Pollution Control Board to lodge complaint against Sunburn

GSPCB has decided to lodge a complaint after the High Court came down heavily on it in a PIL that alleged noise pollution

The Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) has decided to file criminal proceedings against organisers of Sunburn music festival held in December 2022, for violating noise rules.
In its 154th board meeting, the Board authorised its member secretary to file the criminal complaint against the organisers of the EDM festival.

GSPCB chairman Mahesh Patil went on record to state that the criminal case against Sunburn organisers will be filed immediately, adding that the Board, by way of penalising action, will also be retaining the `10 lakh security deposit of the EDM festival organisers towards forfeiture of the said deposit.

The High Court of Bombay at Goa had come down heavily against the GPSCB as well as the Goa Police as it was alleged that there was a violation of the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules 2000 during the EDM that was held at Vagator from 28th to 30th December 2022. Hence, the pollution board decided to instigate criminal proceedingsagainst Sunburn as a response to the direction of the High Court.
Though there was sufficient evidence for launching a prosecution with regards to the blatant noise pollution at the three day festival, the Board as well as the police did not take any action.

The High Court had given the board time for complying with procedural formalities before filing the case.
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) came up for hearing in the High Court in which the GSPCB, Anjuna Police, State government, Sunburn organisers among others were named as respondents.

The PIL was filed by one Rajesh Sinary against the nine respondents and respondent number 10 Spacebound Web Lab Pvt Ltd, Mumbai, the company which secured the permissions to conduct the Sunburn EDM festival at Anjuna in December 2022.
The PIL complained over the arbitrary manner in which permission was granted to Sunburn for holding the EDM between 3.30 p.m. and 10 p.m.

The litigation further maintained that Sunburn held the EDM in violation of the permission and noise rules by brazenly exceeding the 55 decibel limit imposed in the permission.
The petition alleged that the GSPCB, which was one of the authorities to monitor noise pollution levels, was reluctant to take action despite brazen violation of the law.

The High Court, in its order, mentioned that although there were police inspectors and four pollution board officials at the venue to ensure that noise decibels does not exceed the permissible limit, the enforcing authorities remained ‘mute spectators’; there was also ‘no remorse’ from both about failure to enforce the noise pollution orders.
Instead, the GSPCB and the Anjuna Police blamed each other during the court hearing.
Going beyond the Sunburn festival, fingers have been pointed at Pollution Control Board officials.

“Unfortunately, the police authorities, GSPCB officials, The Collectors, or Deputy Collectors do not appear to be taking up the issue of enforcement with the desired and expected level of seriousness (as was evident from the unfortunate blame game staged out in the open Court between the officials of the GSPCB and the Police). This means that the breach is apparent to the authorities, but no one was prepared to accept the responsibility,” the Court noted.
As per a Supreme Court ruling, violations of the noise pollution rules amount to breach of Article 21 (Right to Life) of the Constitution.

The High Court had said the order must be strictly observed in the state to save residents from suffering due to ear deafening music festivals and events.

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