Thursday 28 Sep 2023

How do dusk-to-dawn parties skip the eye of law enforcers?

| SEPTEMBER 18, 2023, 10:52 PM IST

North Goa's coastal belt of Baga, Vagator and Anjuna went abuzz with high-decibel trance and rave dusk-to-dawn weekend parties between Friday and the early hours of Monday. The party posters were out weeks back, and it's all happening there — loud music, sound violations, excise rules violations, drugs, etc. The most unfortunate part is nobody cares — the authorities continue to look the other way, and the parties are allowed a free run.

Interestingly, last week, excise officials conducted a night raid on one cafe & bar at Siolim and the owner was booked under the Goa Excise Duty Act. His licence was suspended, and premises shut for serving liquor beyond permitted hours as specified in the licence. Not bad. The question is, why single out one bar? What happens to the hundreds of others who are in similar violation? Interestingly, a senior Excise officer disclosed that the department only acts if there is a complaint. It meant there was no monitoring by the department to keep tabs on illegalities or violations.

Earlier this year, when the police were also operating on a similar modus operandi in cracking down on sound violations, selective action or the failure to take suo moto cognizance of sound violations, the police hierarchy pointed fingers at the law. While questioning the seriousness of the police in tackling noise pollution, the court then directed the Director General of Police to ensure that the police act against sound violations without waiting for a written complaint. It held that police are under the impression that they are not obliged to act against those violating noise rules unless there is a written complaint, and asked the DGP to rectify the "incorrect impression" by alerting the police officials.

It appears that the High Court's rap of May 2023 has long been forgotten, and authorities have gone back to old ways.

On the other hand, the State Goa Pollution Board has been ideating on many things. For example, an online environmental data monitoring centre has recently been established at the GSPCB headquarters in Saligao, where sound levels on 12 beaches across Goa will be monitored on a real-time basis. A Pune-based company has been roped in to drive the new tech, and accordingly, the equipment has been installed at Calangute, Baga, Anjuna, Arambol and other beaches that are known party spots.

Late last year, the GSPCB had asked open-air venues hosting weddings and parties to install an online noise level monitoring system connected to the Board's server and the office of respective SDMs and DySPs. Eventually, this mechanism failed because venue owners showed no inclination to invest in such a system, and the GSPCB showed no enthusiasm to pursue protocols.

The question, however, is not about installing monitoring systems; it's all about execution and coordination between the pollution board and the police. Practically, the noise mechanisms will fail if there is a conflict here.

Unfortunately, citizens have to resign to their fate because the system has become so insensitive that even the high court's fiercest critique has failed, compliance has failed, and those who were held accountable have failed, too. Sadly, tourism, partying, political influences and corruption have formed a lethal cocktail, putting the system itself in a 'sleep' mode.

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