Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Friday, Sep 09, 2005
Industry & Economy
Variety - Music & Dance
Ban on late night music worries Goa hotels
Panaji , Sept. 8
RECENT Supreme Court directives to States to strictly control noise pollution after 10 p.m. and the latest directives of the Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court to State Government Departments concerned to implement the said Supreme Court directives stringently has got the hospitality industry in the State apprehensive right on the onset of the tourist season.
The Supreme Court directive is applicable across the board throughout the year. With the States having failed to submit affidavits to the Supreme Court regarding their choice of 15 days in a year for relaxation for music till late at night, that relief has also been lost.
This could well dampen the spirit of hotels - big and small - as well as entertainment event organisers as the tourist season for them means outdoor events that are invariably accompanied by loud music running into late hours.
Often this has invited complaints and protests from hapless citizens, sick and old, and students in the neighbourhood
But a State machinery sympathetic towards tourism - including the police - has turned a deaf ear to the protests. This has led to petitions in the court by activist organisations such as the Goa Foundation.
Even some convent schools in the Baga-Calangute-Anjuna tourist belt of North Goa have repeatedly complained to the police against the rave parties past midnight during the tourist season, which have become a major menace to the villagers.
However, much to their dismay, the police and officials of the other enforcing Departments such as Collectorate either pay lip service to the complaints or slap a nominal Rs 50 fine under the Madhya Pradesh Act, said Ms Norma Alvares, environmental activist and lawyer of the Goa Foundation.
She added that the Goa Government has soft-pedalled the issue in the name tourism by adopting the Madhya Pradesh Music Control Act with an amendment, which restricted the ban on loud music beyond midnight, against the Environment Ministry's regulations that ban noise pollution from 10 p.m. onwards.
With the tourist season at the doorstep, the hospitality sector in the State is quite apprehensive. Apart from business getting adversely hit by these directives, hoteliers also privately complain about being continuously fleeced and blackmailed by some unscrupulous officials and the police.
"Hotels in Goa will definitely be adversely affected during the season as a lot of dinner parties and events are organised by hotels outdoors. During off-season, when its is the rainy season, in any case most of the events and parties are held indoors," said Mr Vikram Antao, Resident Manager of Goa Intercontinental Resort in Canacona, South Goa.
" Particularly, for the conferences, which is a big segment for hotels, it would be difficult to convince the customers to agree to close their parties at 10.30 p.m."
Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) officials said that they have been monitoring the noise pollution complaints on a regular basis.
"Whenever any complaint is received, we do investigation through the Collector and the police. Random checks at night are also conducted on hotels," said Mr Amar Vajirani, Honorary Member.
Ms Alvares, however , remains unimpressed by the claims of Government agencies. It is Goa Foundation's pending petition seeking action against the police and other agencies for their failure to seriously implement the Environmental Ministry regulations regarding noise pollution control, especially during the tourist season.
Ms Alvares said that Goa Foundation had filed a number of petitions from 1997 onwards when "regulations" were not in existence. Now that the Supreme Court has given a directive and the High Court has given its own order, finally the large-scale violations by hotels and others would come under control, she added.
The issue often leads to much debate and discussion even in the State Assembly as it is linked to the tourism industry, which relies heavily on nightlife, entertainment, and music.
For Goa, this becomes very crucial as apart from commercial tourism, late-hour music has traditionally become inseparable part of its New Year celebrations, Christmas dances, traditional carnival celebrations, marriage dances (of Catholics), and revellers of Ganesh festival and Diwali, for whom late-night music and bursting of firecrackers are inseparable from these festivals.
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