When the sound of silence makes way for the sound of music

Government mulls extension in sound restrictions in a bid to promote Goa’s image as a wedding destination 

While sound is a natural part of human existence necessary to sustain life on earth, noise is always something that has been unwanted. Noise between 120-140 decibels (dB) causes pain and is typically associated with noise pollution, a term that has become the talk of the town in most cities and urban centres.

Noise pollution can have harmful effects on human health, wildlife, and environmental quality and can cause digestive disorders, stress, and insomnia in people who are exposed to high decibels of noise. For the purpose of protecting and improving the quality of the environment in residential areas, a comprehensive noise standard has been developed and recommended as Ambient Noise Standards, prescribed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests under the Environment Protection Act, 1986. The Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 indicate the maximum sound levels allowable during the day and night time in the industrial, commercial, residential and the silence zones. These rules, which stipulate ‘night time’ as the period between 10pm to 6am, apply to most zones, with certain exceptions. They ban the bursting of sound emitting firecrackers, the beating of drums, trumpets or the use of any sound amplifier during these hours, with the responsibility on the restriction or the use of loud speakers or Public Address system given to the State Police Department. The rules have a set maximum permissible decibel limit of 5 dB allowed in various areas and also specifies penalties for both individuals and organisations.

Goa, being a state with an economy largely dependent on tourism, often bears the brunt of these sound restrictions. Tourists who flock to the state with an aim of partying all night, couples who fly down to wed in Goa and event planners are often left disappointed with the 10 pm sound ban. Nightlife, unarguably the most important factor behind the evolution of Goa into a party destination that it is, has surely taken a hit with the sound restrictions, which have also been enforced by the High Court. In this light, the government’s recent announcement regarding working out a solution to extend sound restrictions beyond 10 pm, has been welcomed with open arms by stakeholders in the tourism industry. While mulling on the decision, Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant stated, “There are sound restrictions on all events post 10 pm as per Central Act. But the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) is working on it. There are both issues– closed-door and open-air venues. We will have to think positively if we want to promote the State as a wedding destination. We will have to look at the issue from the tourism

Pramod Sawant, Chief Minister, Goa

perspective. A solution has to come. If the event is happening in a hall, which is sound-proof, then there is no problem in granting permission for holding events beyond 10 pm.”

This move was immediately welcomed by Jack Ajit Sukhija, President of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), who felt that the move would greatly benefit the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) industry and the wedding industry, which constitute the fastest growing segment of the industry in Goa. Commenting on the announcement, Sukhija stated, “We would also request the CM to try and move all permissions required for events to a single-window app monitored by the Entertainment Society of Goa (ESG) and also to take cognisance of the issues caused by copyright agencies.”

Jack Ajit Sukhija

Proprietor of the popular Panaji-based event management company, Crosscraft, Socorro Francis Serrao states, “Relaxing sound restriction timings beyond 10 pm is crucial to promote Goa’s image as a wedding destination. Couples choose Goa for its picturesque beauty and vibrant culture and a relaxed timeline is essential to make their beachside or outdoor wedding a success. By allowing celebrations to extend beyond 10 pm, we can create a more vibrant and memorable experience for our guests, cementing Goa’s reputation as a premier wedding destination.”

Stakeholders in the industry are also elated by the thought, the government has also recognised the cultural and religious significance of post wedding rites following the Church nuptials for the Catholic community in the state. Expressing his views on the announcement, a former Member of Parliament from South Goa even urged the Chief Minister to consider extending the sound permission time limit for wedding receptions until midnight, given the Catholic community’s unique culture of celebration.

Shruti Tiwari, a renowned wedding planner and Founder of VLW Global feels this move will significantly boost the wedding industry in the state. She says, “I personally feel Goa as a destination has boomed over the years and as per my interactions with the hotels, property owners and managers, this year might be one of the best for the hospitality industry. The ‘Wed in India’ concept which is being hashtagged and promoted extensively, where the international clients are consciously selecting Goa, Rajasthan and Kerala as the destination for their big day is really going to be working in our favour in boosting the economy overall. Because of this conscious promotion of tourism, I feel the weddings in Goa will definitely increase and if the government takes this decision of increasing outdoor music timelines, it will be the icing on the cake.”

While the announcement may have come in as a blessing for the stakeholders in the industry who expect an increase in bookings, the decision may cause anxiety amongst affected locals, especially those living in the vicinity of wedding venues. Serrao, however, feels that this is an issue which can be handled, with no one suffering in the process. “The venue management can take responsibility for ensuring that noise levels are reasonable, and with most wedding venues located in beach resorts away from residential areas, the impact on nearby residents can be minimised. By relaxing timings, we can create a win-win situation for both the industry and local communities,” says Serrao who feels that the relaxation of sound restriction timings is a must to support the growth of Goa’s wedding industry. He also highlights that it is important not to confuse noisy DJ clubs or EDM events with the peaceful music and family performances of Goan weddings, which should not ideally cause a nuisance to those around.

Shruti feels that guests select Goa as their wedding destination primarily because of its scenic beauty and if the sound restrictions are indeed relaxed, it would greatly enhance the overall experience of the wedding entourage. Post 10 pm, she feels, the intensity of the music can be reduced so as not to cause a disturbance to those residing in the vicinity of the wedding venue.

The announcement comes at an opportune time in the state as the Central Government too is keen on promoting the idea of having weddings in India, so that the wealth remains within the country. The move will surely attract couples to celebrate their big day in Goa, as will also boost the state’s image as a tourist-friendly destination. Co-operation and mutual understanding between the locals and the industry will surely go a long way in promoting Goa as a welcoming destination.

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