Despite HC order, chhat celebrations to be grand
The celebrations have been shifted to Hotel Horizon, which has vast acres of empty space, reports Sujata Anandan.india Updated: Oct 25, 2006 17:44 IST
Despite a Bombay High Court directive restricting chhat celebrations on Saturday on Juhu beach, chief organiser of the celebrations Sanjay Nirupam says the celebrations will happen full scale but without cocking a snook at the courts.
He has moved the operative part of the celebrations to the grounds of the hotel and not Juhu beach per se, where the court has restricted the size of the stage (which has to accommodate an enormous number of film stars and politicians) to just 150 square feet.
The Hotel Horizon abuts the Juhu beach and has vast acres of empty space surrounding the actual building.
Nirupam has now secured a no-objection certificate from the hotel – which is private property and so outside the purview of objections by environmentalists opposing the celebrations – and a 60 by 100 square foot stage will rise above the walls of the hotel from where the expected five lakh people gathered on Juhu beach can view the celebrities.
Nirupam is moving a Special Leave Petition before the Supreme Court on Thursday in this regard to close all possibilities of dispute with environmentalists.
Meanwhile, he has already moved the Vacation Judge on Wednesday and secured the court's permission for kirtans and bhajans on chhatpuja on Saturday.
The judge, however, has asked the organisers to secure permission of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation for the loudspeakers and Nirupam's SLP will also seek an interpretation of the 10 pm deadline with regard to noise pollution.
Then, again, around four private trusts are being brought together to work round the court directive which says changing rooms for women should not be more than two per celebration.
Nirupam said it was impossible to follow this directive without factoring in the possibility of a stampede because of the restricted enclosure.
"We expect five lakh people of which around 4000-5000 women would be fasting. Each enclosure cannot accommodate more than two women and as you know one woman will not change before another. Under the circumstances, we have had to persuade the various organisations to come together to construct two enclosures each so that more women can change at a time."
Nirupam said if this amounted to contempt of court, he was willing to appear before the judges and pay the price but he had to avoid the possibility of untoward accidents at all cost.
"It will be a five-hour do and we cannot keep the people idle all this time until the main event begins, otherwise they would get into fights and stampedes. So we had to move the Vacation Judge today."
However, there is one court directive he has no way to combat: that there should be no political posters at the chhat celebrations. Nirupam sounded pretty unhappy about it. "I will follow that directive but what happens later to Ganpati celebrations which have a political origin and to dahi handi celebrations which have acquired political overtones over the years?"
Nirupam, who joined the Congress after quitting the Sena a couple of yeas ago, bases his powers on the large number of uttar bharatiyas in Mumbai and the chhat celebrations are essential to that as they are not to Kripa Shankar Singh, his north Indian rival in the party who is from Uttar Pradesh.
Now Nirupam says, "Celebration of festivals is my constitutional right. How can anyone object to it?"
What about the enormous amounts of garbage that the revelers might leave behind on the beach? That is the main objection of the Juhu Citizens Welfare group which moved the courts against celebrations - that they leave behind mounds of garbage that desoils the beach for weeks.
The organisers have closed that particular debate with the greens by hiring Sulabh International to sweep Juhu beach clean the next day. "We will personally supervise the disposal of the last piece of garbage on the beach and leave it as clean as before," adds Nirupam.