The death of a local in an accident that was caused due to a pothole propelled a Vikhroli mandal to decorate its pandal using the ‘Pothole-free Mumbai’ theme this Ganeshotsav.
Devotees visiting the Vikhrolicha Raja in Kannamwar Nagar are welcomed by an unusual sight. The Ganesh idol is surrounded by images, facts and figures explaining how potholes continue to wreak havoc in Mumbai and across Maharashtra. Celebrating the festival since 1966, Kannamwar Nagar Ek Utsav Samiti decided to portray the sorry state of roads during the 11-day festival.
“This is the first time any mandal in the city has introduced a contemporary theme such as this,” said Arun Meyerkar, a member of the mandal. “The idea was to make people aware of the persisting issue, after a son of a Vikhroli resident died in a bike accident that was caused due to potholes in Kannamwar Nagar.”
Meyerkar added apart from statistics about the number of deaths in the state due to potholes, the group has put together a seven-minute video and an audio commentary on the health issues arising from travelling roads with crevices.
“We have installed a projector that plays the clip twice a day, showing graphics of how the human body is affected by the jerks experienced while travelling over potholes,” he said, adding that the video also provides solutions to construct proper roads across Maharashtra.
Some of the images that surround the 14-foot plaster of Paris Ganesha idol display information about the international pothole day, how most injuries in the human body are felt on the spine, a model of a pothole-free road and the progression of pothole deaths in the state from 2011 to 2015.
“The civic body invests lakhs of rupees during Ganeshotsav and other festivals every year. If some of that money or even donations can be used for development of better roads, Mumbai will not have half the deaths related to traffic annually,” said Sunil Naik, another member.
Officials from the umbrella body of Ganesh mandals said that themes such as these were the need of the hour. “When mandals bring out contemporary issues during a festival, there is an impetus for the public to raise the issue with the authorities. The pothole issue presented by the Vikhroli mandal has been done to educate masses and an attempt to bring societal change,” said Naresh Dahibhavkar, president, Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvay Samiti.