While all big Ganpati mandals in the city are gearing up for the immersion day, organisers have been forced to rework their visarjan budgets at the last minute. The immersion is expected to be a costly affair this time around as several transport service providers in the city have nearly doubled their truck rentals fares for carrying Ganpati idols.
“Last year, our usual truck provider charged Rs 4,500 per truck. This year, they are demanding Rs 8,000 per truck,” said Ravi Gaikwad, president of the Lalbaug Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal, Ganesh Galli. The mandal requires three trucks on immersion day for carrying their Ganpati idol and volunteers, and two trucks on the day after the immersion to bring all their equipment back from Girgaum Chowpatty. “The hike is upsetting our budget, but we may not get any trucks if we don’t book now,” added Gaikwad.
For Ghatkopar’s Bhatwadi Mitra Mandal, the expenses will be even higher, as their truck provider is charging them Rs 15,000 per truck as compared to last year’s Rs 5,000. “Diesel prices have been consistently increasing, so we just prepared ourselves for this,” said Vilas Ram Chavan, president of the mandal.
However, diesel prices are not the only factor forcing transport service providers to hike their rents. “At the moment, the market is suffering from a shortage of both, trucks and drivers,” said Laxman Gangale, owner of the Navi Mumbai-based Siddhi Transport, which rents out two of its four trucks to a mandal every year. “Besides, there are so many more mandals this year in need of trucks.” Gangale has increased the rent for his trucks to Rs 3,000 this year.
Despite the rise in expenses, most mandals have decided to stick to the same transport providers, whom they have been hiring for years, as finding new ones is not an easy task. “It’s also about the trust you develop with them over the years,” said Mangesh Patade, secretary of Parel’s Tejukaya Mandal, who will have to shell out Rs 8,000 more than their usual truck charges for immersion.