Goa plans to amend music act to allow night dances

| 27 January 2000 22:57 IST

If judiciary is the hurdle, then legislature is the way out. This is the way Goa government thinks, at least when it comes to dancing at the tunes of amplified music till late night.

The local bench of Bombay high court had recently imposed prohibition on playing of loud music after 10 pm, as per the provisions of Madhya Pradesh Control of Music and Noise Act. Though Goa had adopted the act since 1997, it was not strictly implemented in the tourist state.

"We will repeal the Madhya Pradesh Act or amend it as per our convenience. Let us not convert Goa into MP", says chief minister Francisco Sardinha. Though he does not agree with the high court order, he has decided to implement it till the law is changed.

While taking away rights of the district and sub-divisional magistrates to issue licences for playing the amplified music and restricting these powers to the home secretary, powers are also given to him to issue licences beyond 10 pm in exceptional circumstances.

Dr Wilfred de Souza, former chief minister and the sole NCP legislator, has however taken this opportunity to blast the Sardinha government, which he supports from outside. His Republic Day eve dance was given relaxation till 12 midnight, not allowing to play the music when 26 January actually began.

Even Sardinha does not agree with it "since for any Goan party, food is served only after 12 midnight", he points out. He now plans to amend the act so that music would be allowed till late night, but with low volume. The act would otherwise be a major hurdle for any traditional Catholic wedding, where dances go on till 2 am.

This relaxation however had become a major menace in coastal areas where rave music is played at high volume till morning, disturbing sleeps of at least two to three villages surrounding the dancing place. "I full agree that we require the law to stop this menace", admits Sardinha.

But the tourism department is now in real quandary, fearing that the court order may dampen the Carnival spirit, beginning here from 3 March. As the tourist inflow for the millennium celebrations was much below the expectations, Carnival was a little hope for the industry.

As it would be difficult for the home secretary (who is the chief secretary) to allow all the Carnival dances as exceptional cases, the government has now once again approached the court with a plea to relax the order on festival occasions and also decentralise the power at least at the level of district magistrates.

While court is awaited on the matter, Goans in general wonder what would happen to the weddings they have planned once the season begins. The chief secretary may have to otherwise busy allowing each and every Catholic wedding in the state rather than attending to other urgent administrative matters.

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