These days, Kesnand, an otherwise nondescript village on the Pune-Ahmednagar highway, has only one issue to talk about: the Sunburn festival. And the subject seems to have divided the village, with a population of 5,000, and ministers alike.
The festival , which will be held in the village on Wednesday, has created schism among its residents, with youngsters and those having businesses, who tend to benefit from the event, supporting it, while others, mostly village elderly, against it.
Reacting to the opposition to the festival, senior member in the state cabinet Girish Bapat, who is also the guardian minister of Pune district, said he personally does not approve of such events.
“I don’t like such festivals. If there is anything against the culture, action will be taken,” said Bapat, contradicting the views of his cabinet colleague and state tourism minister Jaykumar Rawal, who played key role in bringing the festival to Pune to boost state tourism.
On Monda, Kesnand Gram Panchayat conveyed a special gramsabha (village meeting) to discuss whether permission should be granted to the popular electronic dance and music event or not. However, the two-hour-long meeting, which was on occasions interrupted with heated arguments from both sides, ended without any conclusion.
The festival will be held on a 90-acre private plot from December 28 to 31. Organisers expect more than 60,000 people from different parts of India to attend the event, which is in its 10th year and has been facing opposition from various outfits.
Following a heated argument, deputy sarpanch Hiraman Hargude announced that Panchayat will not support the event nor will it issue any letter of support.
“Many villagers feel that festival offers free ground for illicit activities and therefore, should not be allowed to take place in the village. On the other hand, a section of villagers feel festival will bring development to the village especially after an offer made by event organisers about laying water pipeline to provide 24x7 water supply,” said Hargude.
Tanaji Bangar, who wants the festival to be held in the village said, “There is nothing wrong in allowing the festival at Kesnand village if it’s going to benefit us. In case if we discover any illegal activities such as consumption of drugs, we should stop them immediately.”
The festival is also facing objections from rightwing organisations such as Shiv Sena, Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janjagriti Samiti (HJS), alleging that festival organisers have violated various rules and have not taken relevant permissions. These outfits have alleged that people participating in the Sunburn freely consume drugs, the reason why they were ousted from Goa.
The organisers of the event, however, have refuted all the allegations saying, no illegal activities have taken place in the past. To boost tourism in the state, the festival has got support from the state tourism ministry. According to Rawal, government has offered “non-financial” support to the event in order to attract tourism in the state.
Karan Singh, Sunburn CEO, said, “With Sunburn moving to Pune, the festival will become more affordable and accessible for our audiences.”
Venue: The venue is a privately owned 90-acre land at Kesnand, around 30-minute ride from the main city, tucked away on the Pune-Ahmednagar highway. It is on a hilltop overlooking Pune city
First-timers: International artists/DJs who will be performing for the very first time at Sunburn Festival - Angerfist, Miss K8; Monstercat artists – Puppet, Haywyre and Pegboard Nerds, Raiden, Christian Smith, Yotto, Lily Palmer, Kryder, Salvatore Gannaci, Lny Tnz, Broz Rdz, Momis Alanis, Makasi, Karmatek, Robert Falcon, Ajja, Axwell /\ Ingrosso.
Artists: Home-grown artists/DJs who will be performing for the very first time at Sunburn are Zaeden, Siana Catherine, Shivv, The Unknown, Teri Miko, Nina x Malika, Aztec, Akade, Lost Stories, Paratra, Olly Esse, 18 East.
Music: The organisers expect 150 artists including global top grossers like Axwell Ingrosso, Armin van Buuren, Dimitri Vegas Like Mike, KSHMR, Afrojack and Krewella, Bass Jackers, Marnik, Tom Swoon, Haywyre, Dannic, Pegboard Nerds, Christian Smith, Lucas and Steve and homegrown artists like Nucleya, Arjun Vagale, Shaan, Zaeden, Anish Sood, DJ SA, Sound Avatar, Joshi, Priyanjana and many more.