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HindustanTimes Mon,14 Jul 2014

Open space circular irks mandals

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, August 22, 2013
First Published: 09:12 IST(22/8/2013) | Last Updated: 09:15 IST(22/8/2013)

Speaking up against a circular issued by the civic body in March that bans social and religious activities on Mumbai’s playgrounds, the Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvay Samiti, an umbrella body of Ganesh mandals in the city, has sought an exemption during the upcoming Ganesh Chaturthi.

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The circular lays down strict norms for the use of city’s open spaces to protect them from constant occupation for social, religious and commercial activities.

The circular, however, allows programmes, which are being organised on playgrounds before 2010, to continue.

But the Samiti has claimed that around 50 Ganesh mandals have started using open spaces after 2010, and have thus been affected by this decision.

“We have had four to five coordination meetings with the civic body this year, but not once was the implementation of such a circular communicated to us. We have demanded that the conditions in this circular be lifted during Ganesh Chaturthi,” said Naresh Dahibawkar, president of the Samiti.

The civic body has refused to relax the norms of the circular and issued a clarification on Wednesday.

“We have clarified that the circular does not apply to organisations that have been traditionally conducing activities on open spaces, and these would not be stopped. But there are no changes made to the norms,” said SS Shinde, deputy municipal commissioner (gardens).

The Samiti has criticised the civic body for repeatedly hindering the organisation of the festival this year — with a restriction on display of banners, fining mandals for not filling potholes formed because of installation of pandals last year, and the restriction on the use of open spaces.

The BMC had earlier relaxed its ban on banners and had allowed an unlimited number to be put up by mandals within 100 metres from the pandal venue during the festival.


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