Sealing of marriage halls a zero-sum game with no effective results
The marriage halls or bibah bhawans of the city repeatedly violate norms. Due to this, many halls have been sealed by the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) but the department consistently fails to enforce the drive as a result of which the halls are again reopened when the heat cools off.
Recently, GMC sealed three marriage halls viz. Maheswari, Terapanth and Jon Beli for violating norms related to trade license, building permits, parking space and the required width of the passage to the entrances of the halls. The marriage halls create massive traffic jams as they do not have adequate parking space for which the vehicles have to be parked on the roadside resulting in traffic chaos affecting the normal life of the commuters.
Mushroom growth of marriage halls not following the relevant norms has become one of the reasons behind public nuisance late at night as well. During the wedding season the sight of the grooms’ parties dancing along the roads is a common sight giving the general public a hard time with resultant traffic jams that hamper the normal flow of traffic.
It may be mentioned that in a directive, as its order in the Case no. PIL 73/2013 filed by Rajib Kalita seeking intervention of the high court in the menace created by marriage halls, the Gauhati High Court had asked the managements of marriage halls to comply with the norms set for running marriage halls and had also asked the district and police authorities to see that the norms are strictly adhered to.
The Gauhati High Court said that marriage halls that do not have license would not be allowed to carry on the trade henceforth. Halls which do not have license have the liberty to apply to the GMC for one.
The bibah bhawans, the high court said, may also take necessary steps for fulfilling the requirements of law and norms but such establishments have not taken any step towards the same and are running the halls without any norms and regulations. “The licenses of bibah bhawans, which do not fulfil the requisite norms even after the opportunity is granted, shall not be renewed after the validity of the licenses expires. They shall not be allowed to run the bibah bhawans after the expiry of the present term of the licenses because abrupt closure of bibah bhawans may create harassment for the public during the marriage season,” the high court directive said, and added: “The management of the bibah bhawans, which are allowed to carry on business, shall ensure that their approach roads/roads linked to the approach roads are not blocked by vehicles parked by the hosts/guests/invitees attending the functions/ceremonies and that no inconvenience is caused to the commuters/pedestrians using the approach roads/roads linked to the approach roads by such parking of the vehicles.”
The court further said that the management of the bibah bhawans should ensure that no speakers/public address systems are used by the hosts/guests/invitees of the functions at these venues between 10 pm and 6 am.
Although only a few months have passed since this directive, non-compliance in following the norms by the marriage halls in the city has already come into notice. It has been come into notice that after the marriage halls are sealed, they are reopened after a certain lapse of time without the norms and regulations being fulfilled and the concerned authority has also failed to take any step against them so far although, it can only be awaited to be seen if strict action will be taken against those violating the norms.
Talking to G Plus, Executive Member of Greater Guwahati Marriage Halls Welfare Association, Lohit Hazarika said, “A few marriage halls in the city were constructed much before the building byelaws of 1998 and 2006. Some of these marriage halls obviously do not meet the present prescribed norms as there were no such provisions of accommodating parking space, etc. when these were established. The authorities should take a practical approach and resolve the issue in a mutually conducive atmosphere.”
Earlier GMC had issued notices to 62 out of 89 marriage halls in GMC area to furnish the ‘No Objection Certificate’ obtained from GMC and traffic police, as well as their trade licenses. 20 of these failed to do so and GMC planned to seal the halls. Another 5-6 halls were sealed which have been reopened again.
Running wedding halls has become an easy business for the entrepreneurs as they can earn easy money out of it as citizens today opt for the wedding halls to hold all kinds of functions, be it marriage anniversary, birthday parties, weddings etc. “The owners of the halls do not follow the norms thinking that they are running the halls in their own residential premises and do not need extra permission or have to submit relevant documents to the concerned authority,” informed by an official source of GMC.
Three wedding halls namely Maheswari Bhawan, Terapanth Bhawan and Jon Beli sealed by GMC
The halls have been sealed for violating norms and operating without trade licenses
Lack of parking space is one of the main reasons for which the halls have been sealed