Sucheta Dalal :Double Standards: Noise levels at Godrej Party for Liz Hurley and Arun Nayar
Sucheta Dalal

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Double Standards: Noise levels at Godrej Party for Liz Hurley and Arun Nayar  

March 9, 2007

Noise activist Sumaira Abdulali of Awaaz Foundation, has called into question the double standards of Mumbai's elite and their propensity to seek exlusion from the rules when it comes to their own parties and celebrations. She says, "I applaud the Bombay Police. They are the only heroes to emerge by their recent action against noise in confiscating illegally used loudspeakers during a high profile ‘International’ celebrity event - the wedding party of Liz Hurley and Arun Nayar at the Godrej bungalow in Juhu".

In an open letter to the media and NGOs she writes: The double standards consistently followed by some ofMumbai’s most prominent citizens never fails to amaze. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the selective compliance to Noise Rules, which are sought to be selectively imposed or discarded at one time or the other by so any of us.

In Mumbai, it appears that the privileged elite consider themselves privileged to demand peace and quiet at the cost of traditional celebrations such as Ganpati and Navratri, while continuing to impose their own ‘high class’ and high decibel celebrations on neighbours. How else can you explain this high decibel bash held by the Godrej family for Liz Hurley and Arun Nayar’s wedding party, which necessitated the cops being called out at 2am to stop high levels of noise?

The party was held at the Godrej bungalow at Juhu. Mr S P Godrej headed the Committee formed by the Bombay High Court, the suggestions of which formed the basis

of the Noise Rules notified in 2000. The Noise Rules specially emphasize that noise in the night time hours is not permitted. Yet this, the latest in a long series of similar exceptions has been sought to be imposed on Society in favour of elite programs.

In 2003, shortly after the Bombay High Court ordered and the cops ensured strict implementation of the Noise Rules during the Navratri Festival, the Kala Ghoda Festival Association sought an exception to be made for loudspeaker use in a Silence Zone on the grounds that the culture of Mumbai would otherwise suffer. Likewise, the Rang Bhavan (placed next to a Government hospital) was sought to be exempted from Noise Rules for rock concerts. During Diwali, it is in the affluent neighbourhoods that noise violations from firecrackers are most and in weekends getaways that all-night parties such as Rajeev Seth’s New Year Party in Kihim continue to shake up whole neighbourhoods with mind shattering levels of noise.

The law is equal for all. It is expected of the elite to lead the way towards a socially aware and responsible Mumbai. It is no wonder that, when the leaders are themselves the law breakers, those who look to them for direction - their drivers, servants and others dependent on them - learn, not to obey law but that it is desirable to break laws selectively. They learn that lip service to laws is good enough and that it is up to those who wield enough power to prove themselves above law.

"Can we ever expect Mumbai to become a world class city? Is this type of leadership from the leaders of our Society not the reason why our systems are failing us now?" asks this gritty activist who continues to take up environment and noise related issues, even when threatened and roughed up by goons associated with such vested interests.

-- Sucheta Dalal