The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has asked the Bombay high court to allow pandals to be set up for Ganeshotsav, as the civic body has already given different groups the permission.
The civic body’s plea came during the hearing of a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Thane resident Dr Mahesh Bedekar. In his PIL, Bedekar had said rules were being broken during festivals such as Ganeshotsav, Navratri and Dahi Handi, when pandals are set up on public roads.
The court had said citizens have the fundamental right to walk on roads and footpaths that are in good condition, and this should be considered by municipal commissioners before granting permission for pandals to be set up in public places.
Senior counsel AY Sakhare, appearing for the BMC, told a division bench of justice Abhay Oka and justice Revati Mohite-Dere they had given permission to set up pandals for the Ganeshotsav, starting September 17. Sakhare said this process began before the court’s order.
Sakhare told the court the BMC received 140 requests, but granted permission to only 57 organisers.
The court, however, asked why the BMC had come to the court with the matter. We can understand if pandal organisers came to us with this request, the bench said.
Bedekar’s lawyer, senior counsel SM Gorwadkar, also asked why the BMC had approached the court, when it did not have locus standing in the case.
The court also pointed out that four months had passed since it asked the state to make public the names of officers appointed under the Noise Pollution Rules — so that citizens know whom to complain to — but this had not been done yet.
Acting attorney general Anil Singh told the court the state has identified designations instead of names and was in the process of framing policies.
Singh assured the court all details will be made public in 10 days.
The court said it will issue contempt notices if the state does not comply with its orders. The hearing in the matter continues on Friday.
* Mandals say civic body’s move a big relief
With the BMC asking the Bombay HC to allow the setting up of Ganesh pandals this year, Mumbai’s mandals said they can now hope for festivities to continue as usual.
The civic body told the court it had given mandals permission before the court had that said that the pandals set up for festivals on public roads should not come in the way of the rights of citizens to roads and footpaths that are in good condition.
“We set up our pandals only after the BMC’s clearances, which include those for traffic and noise pollution,” said Naresh Dahibavkar, the convener of the Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvaya Samiti that has 12,000 Ganesh mandals and 1,80,000 household ganpatis under it.
“No resident has ever approached us with such complaints,” Dahibavkar said.
Ashok Pawar, the president of Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samiti, said, “As our pandal is one of the most visited, it requires large-scale preparations, which we have already started. We are hopeful the Friday hearing will be in our favour.”