Mikes blare, school stops classes

Raiganj, Jan. 24: A high school at Siliguri More in Raiganj town dismissed classes this morning because of a dozen blaring loudspeakers on the institution's grounds where the government had organised a programme.

When Trinamul leader Mukul Roy, who was at the event, was told that classes had to be stopped in Sudarshanpur Dwarikaprasad Uchha Vidyalaya because of the blaring loudspeakers, he said: "Baam Fronter aamoley goto 34 bochhorey, school pranganey erokom anusthan onek hoyechhe. District administration ekhane programme arrange korechhey. Ami eshey mike control korechhi. Shobdo bidhi menei anushthan kora hoyechhe (During the 34 years' of Left rule, many programmes had been held on school campuses. The district administration arranged this programme. I controlled the mike after I came here. All rules against noise pollution have been adhered to)."

A journalist asked him if the Trinamul government wanted to follow in the footsteps of the Left Front government on flouting noise pollution norms. Roy did not reply to the question, got into his car and left the venue.

At this morning's programme minorities development and madarsa education minister Giasuddin Mollah was also present.

The programme was organised from 11am to distribute loans and scholarships to minorities.

A dais was erected on the grounds of the school.

From 10.30am, the organisers started playing patriotic songs and made announcements that were amplified through at least 12 loudspeakers.

According to Supreme Court guidelines, the use of a loudspeaker above 60 decibels is banned. Loudspeakers with sound levels lesser than 60 decibels can be used up to 10pm.

Hospitals, academic institutions, places of worship are to be treated as "silence zones" and use of loudspeakers within a 300-yard radius of these buildings during work hours and at places of worship is banned.

When classes began at 11am, the noise level forced teachers to shut all the windows. Some of the teachers then went out and requested the police to lessen the noise. However, when their requests were ignored, the school authorities declared classes over for the day after the first period.

About an hour later, Roy arrived at the venue along with Mollah and Choudhury Abdul Karim, the Islampur Trinamul Congress MLA and minister for mass education and library services.

Roy, in front of the crowd, chided the organisers for the high level of noise near the school. "There is so much noise here. Tomorrow the media will attack me for this," he said.

A few loudspeakers were then disconnected.

The secretary of the school management committee, Sandhi Ghosh, said the district administration had approached the school authorities for permission to hold a programme on the grounds.

"As it was an official programme we did not object. But we had no idea that the organisers would have no awareness regarding noise pollution restrictions. When our requests yielded no results we decided to suspend classes after the first period," Ghosh said.

North Dinajpur district magistrate, P. N. Bhutia, who was present at the event, refused comment on the matter.

"The minorities development cell organised the function. I will not comment on it," he said.

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