In the last few years, India has seen a lot of awareness being built among its citizens about air pollution. Visuals of cities like Delhi chocking during winter because of smog (smoke and fog) and poor air quality leading to diseases have given rise to campaigns against air pollution at various levels, but somehow similar awareness is not there about noise pollution.
The Supreme Court guideline of not using loudspeakers after 10 pm is generally followed in urban areas, but there are many violations to this.
Playback singer Sonu Nigam after getting his head shaved.
Now popular singer Sonu Nigam has hit the nail on its head by raising the issue of loud speakers mounted on places of religious worship which are becoming an irritant for many. The dramatic way in which Sonu Nigam conducted his press conference in Mumbai has given the issue a controversial turn. This leads to many people saying that Sonu is doing a publicity stunt and just wants to stay on the TV screen by raking up some controversy. Be that as it may, the issue of noise becoming an irritant still remains an issue worth taking note of.
Many individuals and groups have filed FIRs against Sonu Nigam for hurting their religious sentiments because he used certain language in his tweets. That is a separate issue. But the reason this subject is trending today on social media is because of the wide audience it appeals to. Sonu has made it clear that he means to target noise pollution coming from all the religious places and not just places of worship of a certain religion.
It is noteworthy that till the late 1980s, in Maharashtra, loud speakers were used on Masjids only during the month of Ramazan. It was Congress leader Shankarrao Chavan who made a promise during his election campaign to the Muslim community leaders that he will allow loudspeakers on Masjids all year round if his party is voted to power. He kept the promise and also provided funds to the Masjid trusts to put up those loudspeakers when he was the Chief Minister of Maharashtra. So the loud speaker culture is not a religious matter, but it’s a political issue.
Now if a singer like Sonu Nigam takes the issue up because he feels he is getting disturbed because of the loud speaker’s noise, his comments cannot be ignored. Why should any place of worship use a loudspeaker in the first place? And the noise level in a city goes out of control because if one particular community uses loudspeakers, the other wants to do the same. Where will this madness stop?
Some attention needs to be paid to the manner in which noise levels cross limits of tolerance during festival season. Whether its Diwali or Ganesh festival, the use of fire crackers or of loudspeakers is really damaging for a large section of society such as very young infants or old people. Nobody has ever paid attention to this menace till now.
Whether Sonu Nigam has raked up this controversy for personal publicity or for the sake of the cause is a different issue, but if his acts help attract attention to the problem of noise pollution, it will really be helpful to society in some way.