Punjabis love to dance to loud music during their famed ‘big-fat weddings’. But this unique feature of weddings in the state is apparently going to take a hit as the Punjab Pollution Control Board’s (PPCB) has just issued directions to marriage palace owners, asking them not to play loud music in open spaces.

The Board has advised them to opt for indoor music functions in view of increasing noise pollution in the state. In a recent meeting, the Board felt that noise generated by the playing of music systems and other loud musical instruments in the open lawns of marriage palaces is contributing to noise pollution.

The Board called representatives of state marriage palaces associations and DJ operators to apprise them that the noise pollution generated by the playing of music systems and musical instruments in the open lawns was leading to various ill-effects on humans and animals.

PPCB chairman KS Pannu said noise has been defined under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, as an air pollutant which may tend to be injurious to the human beings and other living creatures if the levels of noise in the ambient air exceed the prescribed standards.

He said the Union government has notified the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000, under the provisions of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, and has prescribed ambient air noise standards to maintain, regulate and control ambient air noise.

The Punjab government in 2014 notified the comprehensive guidelines for the regulation of noise and sound pollution and maintenance of ambient air quality standards, he said. Pannu added that high volume music systems in the open lawns of marriage palaces contribute to the ambient noise pollution.

“It causes impulsive increase in the ambient air noise levels beyond the permissible standards leading to inconvenience to the general public having deleterious effect on health of living beings and psychological well-being of the people,” said Pannu.

The Board has issued an advisory to all marriage palace owners that music systems and musical instruments should be installed and played only inside the halls of marriage palaces. The sound level of the DJ and loud speakers systems should be kept at a level that it does not become available beyond the battery limits of marriage palaces, reads the advisory.

The president of Ludhiana marriage palace owners association, Amarjeet Singh, told The Statesman that it is unlikely that Punjabis will support this move. He said they are known for enthusiastic marriage celebrations. In Ludhiana, particularly, the trend for big-fat Punjabi marriages is much more. Expecting huge gatherings, families prefer to go for outdoor arrangements along with the DJ or music system, he said. In most cases, the Barat procession comes to the venue after 10 p.m., the prescribed limit of playing DJs. “It will not be possible for us to follow the directions of PPCB as families demand playing loud music when the Barat reaches. We will address the issue with the local administration to take an alternative call,” Amarjeet said.

Echoing similar sentiments, another marriage palace owner in Patiala, Sachin Singla, said Punjabis spend their money lavishly on two things, ‘Ghar te Vyah’ (House and Marriage). In recent days, the culture of marriage functions in the open has become a trend as Punjabis want to showcase their wealth and are ready to spend huge money while ensuring large-scale arrangements from catering to DJ systems.

“A Punjabi cannot imagine dancing on soft music. There are a large number of people involved in arrangement of the big-fat marriages. The move is likely to affect the employment chain. There will be no point for a family which is ready to spend Rs 15 to Rs 20 lakh, to have an indoor ceremony with a limited number of people. Only in southern states can marriages be enjoyed with softer music but in Punjab, it is quite different,” Singla added.

The issue of increasing noise pollution in Punjab has been in the limelight and was discussed in detail during the Assembly session in March. After this, the PPCB conducted a study and found that the situation was alarming in the state as the level of noise due to loudspeakers used at religious places in villages across the state was above permissible limits.

The noise levels at the boundary walls of religious places were recorded at 60 to 88 on the decibel (db) scale, while at a distance of 50 metres it was recorded at 50 to 72 db, at 100 metres it was 50 to 72 db and at 200 meters it was found to be between 52 to 70 db, which was much above the permissible limit of 45 db.