This is the season of joy. And giving. The gift of happiness and hope. And as we have lit candles of hope, peace, joy, and love in the season of advent, we must see that the rays of each of the candles light up the lives of Goans cutting through the pitch darkness, of despair, hopelessness and a sense of loss of most things Goan.
The drug infested -loosely called ‘party belt’, or the North beach belt blows up in smoke of all kinds. It took a campaign and a High Court order to restrain and stop those all-night trance parties at high decibels. And yet you hear nonchalant whispers saying “nothing will happen, life will go on and the party never stops”.
Yes, it never stops for nightclub owners, rave party organisers, restaurants in residential areas, and even run by foreigners, in places like Siolim, Anjuna, Vagator, and Morjim. This is like a Republic of its own beyond the rules of India or Goa
As North Goa goes up in smoke, can’t the government light candles of hope where it matters, in the homes of ordinary peace-loving Goans
It can make a big distinction between the noise, the trance and rave parties, and nonstop ear and brain-piercing noise that qualifies for music but is just a plain front for substance abuse and trade of drugs; and traditional festivities. It can be anybody’s guess why ordinary Goans are not delinked from the rightful, attempts to stop illegal noise pollution in North Goa.
Not protecting Goan festivities and traditions from the “punishment” rightly meted out to the illegal events without any permission in North Goa, is a grave injustice and causes pain to ordinary Goans.
Over the Christmas, New Year fortnight the announcement of mega parties, a galaxy of DJs and dancers, and all-night revelry are hitting inboxes and WhatsApp groups. Many of them are albeit indoor events but the lines between indoor and outdoor and before 10 pm and after, and low and high decibels, are expected to be blurred at crossed at will.
At the same time ordinary Goans wanting to celebrate their traditional forms of festivities and celebrations like dances, weddings, etc, especially in December and January, will be denied their simple events of celebrations and togetherness.
CUT TO SOUTH GOA, where anxious parents wonder if their life’s savings for their daughter’s wedding will be wasted or not
Areas beyond the party belt, and mainly then large swathe of middle and south Goa, less touched or untouched by the evils of bad tourism and the smoke-filled degeneration of society is however facing the unfortunate fallout of what was certainly not the Honourable High Court’s intention - the winding down and winding up of weddings at 10 pm, music bands getting cancellations and apprehension among many that traditional services over Christmas and New year at Churches will have to be curtailed.
The portrayal of this as Court directed ban is incorrect and misleading
The High Court order, simply calls for the implementation of the noise pollution rules 2000 of the Central government that prohibits any music played beyond 10 pm. Let us also accept that all along, this was stretched as long as this did not disturb anyone, and weddings and other social functions, were, by and large accepted by society in the spirit of brotherhood and harmony.
Therefore, as many lawyers have confirmed, the High Court does not and has not passed a new order entering into the executive domain. It has only directed the implementation of the Noise Pollution Rules of 2000 passed by the Central government and adopted by the states.
The reason the order seems so significant is that the rules were so badly flouted in the drugs and trance party belt of North Goa where outdoor parties with loud music went on till breakfast time the next day
When the High Court sought implementation of the no music beyond 10 pm rule, there was panic and confusion among ordinary Goans who had planned weddings. Bands are closing their last sets by 10 pm and refusing to do encores. Wedding organizers are therefore switching to the cheaper option of DJs.
It is still in the government’s hands to light the candles of hope and gives relief without flouting the High Court order. Goans hope that in the season of giving, these candles will be lit
While the noise pollution rules are central rules and one might hear the arguments that the state government cannot change any rules and extend timings for the music of social events and ceremonies to 11 pm, the fact is that there are precedents of Goa government intervening in such situations.
The original notification, issued by the Goa government on February 10, 2022, permitted music during 15 festive days a calendar year. Then after the High Court order, the Environment department issued a notification allowing music up to 6 am on 17 festive days. This was hurriedly withdrawn, and a new notification allowed music up to midnight on New Year’s Eve.
A notification allowing festival-linked events to go on till 6 am on festive days would be like a candle of hope for ordinary Goans.
Since notifications have been issued, withdrawn, and amended, surely there is room for a practical effective notification that allows music till midnight for weddings and till early morning for traditional events and celebrations like Christmas and New Year dances, etc for a limited number of days per year.
All religious ceremonies and events held during those 17 carefully selected days would also be allowed without restrictions.
However commercial events like trance and other parties especially in the Anjuna Morjim belt should not be allowed to misuse this notification. For this, an honest policing system is needed.
An open letter to the CM, from Mrs. Carol Toscano e Fernandes, a mother of a daughter about to get married reflects the pain, shared with Herald, and is an eye opener. She wrote to CM:
I’m sure you understand that arrangements for weddings are made even a couple of years in advance and a tidy sum of money is paid to the band playing for the reception. The wedding nuptial time is also fixed in advance and invitation cards are printed and sent out which makes it difficult to alter such timings and re-inform the invitees so that the reception starts at an earlier time.
Please take into consideration that the amounts paid for such occasions are personal savings that have been made over a period of time, mostly by parents who would like their children to have a memorable wedding. Weddings are not entertainment activities; they are family get-togethers that bring people together to celebrate a beautiful union. “I humbly request you to reconsider this decision on weddings and to please permit music at least up to 11 pm.”
She echoes what many parents and to-be-wed couples feel. Goan bands which wait for this season for their early earnings are also stumped.
But the hope is that the government of the people can still do it for the ordinary people who want to celebrate their festivals, adhere to their customs, and preserve traditions in their unique beautiful way which makes Goa what it is.
Let there be music, let there be love, and let there not be noise and greed and illegalities backed by the powerful and blessed by them.