In a first, Shree Ganesh Utsav Mandal, popularly known as Wadalacha Raja, will install 225 closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras across Wadala for the Ganesh festival to keep an eye on miscreants.
The pandal receives more than one lakh devotees who contribute Rs20 lakh in donations each festival, but the trust does not use the money for lavish or thematic decorations. “Our idol is enough to spread the love and message it wants, we feel. We believe in traditional way of celebrating and try to make it joyous rather than making it entertaining,” said Rajiv Rasal, a member of the trust.
However, the 10-feet-tall idol is covered in gold and silver. “The ears and feet (of the idol) are covered with silver while the four hands have gold all over it. The crown, too, is made of 18 tolas (210 grams) of pure gold,” added Rasal.
Jayant Patel, the president of the 22-year-old mandal, said, “We have maintained a separate bank account by the name of ‘Wadalacha Raja Camera Project’ where all the devotees or trust members contribute their share. This money is not used for any other purpose.”
Patel said, “We planned this project two years ago because of issues like safety of women and chain snatching. We saw good results of having CCTV cameras on our lane so we decided to expand it to the entire area.”
The budget of the project is estimated over Rs2 crore which would be totally funded by the 22-year-old trust. The trust said it has received permission from the police over security arrangements. “The police have agreed to give us their operating station (of Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Marg Police station) from where our technical team will be monitoring cameras in all the lanes,” he said.
Chetan Birade, a member of the technical team, said, “More than 40 cameras have already been installed and around a hundred more would be installed during the remaining days. Our target is to install at least 140 cameras before the Ganeshotsav which would cover the most important parts of the area.”
The project will later be integrated with the government’s plan to put the entire city under CCTV surveillance, said Birade.