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The Bombay High Court today expressed security concerns over the use of Shivaji Park for non-sporting events, including the swearing-in ceremony of Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray as Chief Minister of Maharashtra.
Uddhav Thackeray will be sworn in as CM at Shivaji Park in Dadar tomorrow evening. Shivaji Park is a large public ground situated in Central Mumbai.
A Division Bench of Justices SC Dharmadhikari and RI Chagla made this observation while hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by NGO Wecom Trust. The petition sought a declaration that Shivaji Park is a playground and non-sporting activities including public rallies cannot be held there.
In 2010, the High Court had declared the area as a ‘silence zone’ and put restrictions on its use for non-sporting activities.
The Court today said,
“We are worried. What will happen is that holding ceremonies will become a regular feature and everyone will want to use the ground for such ceremonies. We cannot put everyone else’s life at risk.”
The petitioner Trust had claimed that despite the declaration as silence zone, Mumbai Police has been giving permission for the use of loudspeakers. No action has been taken so far against event organizers for breaching the Noise Pollution Violation Rules.
Concerns were also raised over the inconvenience caused to people due to the proposed erection of temporary structures on the occasion of the death anniversary of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar on December 6.
As per a state government circular, Shivaji Park can be used for a non-sporting activity for 45 days a year. Moreover, seven days are given to the Civic Body to prepare the ground for Dr. Ambedkar’s death anniversary and to set the ground back to its original form after the event. Advocate Ashwin V Sakolkar made submissions on behalf of BMC.
In this regard, the Court told the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and state authorities,
“What will happen is that the temporary structures will remain there and that will give rise to another problem. What about the material that comes with trucks? Everything will then be very difficult for you…
…Just imagine what will happen at the ground and the by-lanes around, if there is a gathering of 4 to 5 lakh people at the ground…”
However, refusing to make any specific comments or pass any directions on tomorrow’s swearing-in ceremony, the Court noted,
“You (petitioners) should have approached concerned authorities. We do not want to say anything about tomorrow, but pray that nothing untoward happens during tomorrow’s ceremony.”
The Court then asked the BMC to file an affidavit in reply to the implementation of the government circular and posted the matter for further hearing on December 10.