Bengaluru, Mar 17: In an order with far-reaching implications, the Karnataka State Board of Auqaf has issued a circular to all the mosques and dargahs (mausoleums) in the state not to use loudspeakers between 10 pm and 6 am, saying the ambient noise level around these structures has "deleterious effects on human health and the psychological well-being of people".
In the circular dated March 9, the board said, "The loudspeakers shall not be used at night time, which shall mean from 10 pm to 6 am."
Further underlining the "silence zones", the circular said any violation will be liable for the penalty.
"The areas comprising not less than 100 metres around hospitals, educational institutions and courts are declared as silence zones.
"Whoever uses sound amplifier or burst sound-emitting firecrackers, uses a loudspeaker or public address system in a silence zone is liable for penalty under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act-1986," the circular read.
These decisions were taken at the board's 327th meeting held on December 19, 2020, regarding strict adherence to the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 in Karnataka and "it unanimously resolved to create awareness amongst the managements of Masjids and Dargahs".
"It is observed that increasing the ambient noise level around many a Masjid and Dargahs due to generator sets, loudspeakers and public address systems have deleterious effects on human health and the psychological well-being of people," the order noted.
The board reminded the mutawallis and managing committees of the mosques and dargahs that it had issued a circular on July 10, 2017 (when Siddaramaiah headed the Congress government in Karnataka) to follow the ambient noise standards in accordance with the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000.
The circular said that loudspeakers should be used only for "azan" and other important announcements, whereas the congregational Salat, Jumma Qutba, Bayans, religious socio-cultural and knowledge-based functions shall be performed with the speakers installed on the premises of the mosques and dargahs.
The noise-governing apparatus may be installed in the institutions in consultation with the local environment officers.
The Khateeb O Imam of Bengaluru's Jamia Masjid, Maqsood Imran, told media that he too has received the circular. He added that they have spoken to the CEO of the board about revising the circular since the morning "azan" is an important one.
He shared a letter written by Waqf Board member and MLA Tanveer Sait to the CEO of the board.
In the letter, Sait said, "As the board is an autonomous body, keeping this instruction in the view, you are hereby directed to issue an amended circular at the earliest, considering sunrise timings and use of loudspeakers sensibly between 10 pm to 5 am as the holy month of Ramzan is fast approaching."
Former chairman of the state Waqf Board Anwar Manippady told the press, "It is a great step towards amiability in the society between the two communities -- minorities and majorities."