SUNBURN ISUNBURN ILLEGAL?

By Rajan Narayan

THE Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court has confirmed that the permission given to the Sunburn festival in 2022 was illegal. This was not a surprise as permissions given to earlier Sunburn festivals were also doubtful. The primary problem is that the Sunburn organizers have not taken any steps to control noise pollution.
Sunburn is basically about trance music which causes severe noise pollution for those who live in the vicinity of the area. Year after year the Sunburn organizers and particularly Shailendra Singh, who owns the concept have been violating all the environmental rules without authorities checking on what’s going on at the open-air much-hyped so called concern.
The High Court and the public of Goa would not have realized that Sunburn permissions are illegal if an Anjuna resident had not filed a petition for noise pollution in the High Court. Now there are serious doubts about whether the permission given to the Sunburn event this year in 2023 is legal or not. Sunburn runs for three days and nights non-stop in the last final week of December and into the new year.
This year the Sunburn organizers wanted to extend it to December 31, namely through New Year’s eve. But there was strong opposition from hotels and locals as New Year is an occasion when the minority Catholic community goes for mid-night mass. The entire natal week is of religious significance to do with Christianity highlights.
It was pointed out that if Sunburn is held on New Year’s eve it would totally disruptive for the community for attending midnight mass and other rites of the faith. The church officials as well the entertainment events organized by various star hotels would be affected. The lobby against Sunburn succeeded with the intervention of MLA of Saligao Delilah Lobo and the government decided not to give the Sunburn organizer an extra night’s extension for the high decibel music concern.

CONCERNED HIGH COURT
THIS time the high court has taken the concern about disrupting normal life and noise pollution very seriously. It has directed the Goa government to strictly monitor the goings-on at the Sunburn festival and ensure that residential life around is not disrupted for the community. Both collector and deputy collector have been directed to supervise the arrangements and install noise monitoring equipment.
It is unlikely that Sunburn will be able to comply with the noise pollution guidelines. Needless to say the Sunburn organizers are so well connected that they can frustrate even genuine desire of any authority to regulate and overseer the festival. A lot of local Goans too have vested interests in the annual event for it generates income for the people of Vagator and nearby villages from where many set up stalls and shacks for vendor business.
However, in the light of the high court’s observations on Sunburn, it would be interesting to find out if the permissions granted to the ongoing Serendipity Art Festival’s music events at the Nagali Hills venue (near Manipal Hospital) at Dona Paula are legal. These nine-day festival too sees music concerts every night at open grounds adjoining all the Goa University lands.
Some of whose who registered for the concert evenings say the Hindi film music fusing with all kinds of other Western music is unbearable and lacking in taste. Local residents too who are part of the bold and beautiful of Goa residing here are complaing about the mega noise in the night. The open area is surrounded by buildings at the Nagali Hills residential areas and we are told some residents have very bitterly objected about the noise pollution and if the organizers have got the necessary permissions to conduct the daily late night concerts.
We are not sure if Nagali Hills was the venue for Serendipity last year. Normally, these festival concerts are held at the traditional Campal promenade grounds which are very spacious and since there are no residents in close proximity any noise possibility is too subdued for anyone to take objection to. The State government when it suits it grants permissions for private events of this nature without monitoring the impact of their irresponsible action. This is true of not just noise pollution but also environmental and a garbage hazards.

HOSPITALITY LAW BREAKERS
A NUMBER of five and seven-star hotels have been violating CRZ rules with immunity. It may be recalled that a 5-star hotel in Dona Paula was ordered to demolish illegal structures, including a brand-new convention hall. However, the owners who are the Timblo family, succeeded in getting the then chief minister, Digambar Kamat, to retrospectively amend the act specifying the CRZ violations within the high tide line area.
Under pressure from the 5-star hotel lobby it has also been ruled that area around the Cidade de Goa -de-Goa hotels and Grand Hyatt Bambolim, as also the Marriott riverfront properties are not ocean front properties.

CRZ VIOLATIONS OKAY!
THERE are major accusations of CRZ violations against not only Panaji hotels but many of the coastal belt hotels. It would be seem the government of yesteryear or today does not want to bother about compliance of the law because the hotelier owners are rich and powerful. It government only gets involved when a private citizen’s case is filed against a hotel. There are CRZ violation cases pending against the Grant Hyatt Bambolim.
The strategy of 5-star hotels is to move the Supreme Court against the any verdict of the Goa Bench of the Bombay high court and even the National Green Tribunal. They know that due to chronic delays a case in SC will take any number of dates to come up. Meanwhile, the hotels can enjoy the profits of their illegal construction.
As far as noise pollution is concerned the Sunburn noise pollution is once in the year issue. Even in normal times there is large scale violation of the noise pollution rules and regulations for there are any number of nightclubs along the Anjuna and Vagator belt and all of them play loud music of the questionable kind around the clock. They somehow know how to be on the right side of the local police station which takes no action. But when it comes to some other private events the police are quick to take action. So allegedly all this has become a huge extortion racket.
Goa has become a place where you may not worry about CRZ violations or noise pollution or any other laws if you have the right connections and political pockets are kept warm presumably. In Goa it has been easy for successive governments to turn a blind eye to the prevalence various kinds of undesirable and anti-environmental peace. The HC has done well to order that mega events be licensed and supervised strictly. The law must apply to all, big or small events. It must be enforced strictly even if it means shutting down the Sunburn festival later this month at year end.

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