After singer Sonu Nigam’s angry tweets on Azaan, the social media was filled with polarizing views on the use of loudspeakers in holy shrines. While some applauded the singer for taking a stand against noise pollution, others were disappointed with his selective outrage against a specific faith. Keeping this in mind, Mumbai-based activist Sumaira Abdulali, who keeps a check on noise level during the festivities has asked the concerned authorities to take strict action against the violators of guidelines issued for the use of loudspeakers.
Early Monday morning, Nigam had tweeted, “God bless everyone. I’m not a Muslim and I have to be woken up by the Azaan in the morning. When will this forced religiousness end in India.” He further called it a “Gundagardi” and this remark was not taken in a good taste by the Muslim community.
Sumaira Abdulali who is the convenor of Awaaz Foundation, an NGO which “keeps its ear on the rising noise level in the city” wrote a letter to the government authorities. She addressed Environment Secretary Satish Gavai, Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta, Commissioner of Police Datta Padsalgikar and Member Secretary of Maharashtra Pollution Control Board P Anbalagan.
She stated that The Supreme Court of India and the Bombay High Court have time and again commented that religion cannot be a reason to violate the noise pollution rules. This order is applicable to all the religious places and should be followed by all the temples, gurudwaras, churches, and mosques.
According to the letter, the Muslim community had stopped early morning Azaans on loudspeakers in 2005 after Supreme Court’s Order but then Maharashtra government had filed a review petition which extended the time for their at night till 12 am for select 15 days of the year during religious festivals of Ganpati Visarjana, Eid-e-Milad, and Christmas. The loudspeakers at various religious shrines were also re-installed after the review.
“Noise pollution is a serious health issue and adversely affects the health of people from all communities who are exposed to extremely high levels of noise in Mumbai, one of the noisiest cities in the world. Forced sleep deprivation, a direct result of noise pollution is considered a form of torture and noise pollution adversely affects hearing, mental health, heart and blood pressure,” she said.
She has urged to the concerned Departments of Government to strictly enforce the noise pollution rules in accordance with the Bombay High Court Order of August 2016 for all religious, cultural and social denominations to reduce noise pollution in the city.