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Politicians must help reduce noise pollution in Pune

HT has been consistently covering issues related to noise pollution in during the Ganesh Festival in the city. Here is what our readers have to say about the issue.

pune Updated: Sep 03, 2017 17:22 IST
Police officials check noise levels of sound using a Decibel metre.
Police officials check noise levels of sound using a Decibel metre. (Ravindra Joshi/HT PHOTO)

The issues raised by Mr Sanjay Deshpande in the columns ‘Ganesh Festival needs out-of-box thinking’ on August 27, about how to make the Ganesh festival more people friendly, more comfortable for all, less irksome, less noisy and less irritating is a very big problem to be tackled.

Much as all of us ordinary denizens of Pune may want this to happen, but it will not be permitted by selfish powerful arrogant politicians and sundry leaders. The occasion was marked by ‘bhakti’ and piety as the hallmark of the event earlier. It was fun to be in Pune at this time, when families with their friends and relatives gathered in reverence, without any fear and impediment, and called upon Lord Ganesha to look kindly upon his devotees.

Today, it has become an aggressive demonstration of power and wealth. Mandals outnumber streets and localities. Differences between people living in the same neighbourhood and close vicinity result in many Ganpati mandals within a few minutes of walking distance from each other. A sad presentation of the schisms in our society, where ‘my Ganpati is better and noisier than yours’ is more important.

You can never get people to congregate at one large open ground far from homes. Ganpati is a personal God who is invited home at this time. It was always like that and new generation politics has corrupted this practice and taken Ganpati onto our streets where the opulence and vulgar display of pelf and noise is supreme. There is unbridled competition on which mandal makes more noise, is more brightly lit, is more garishly decorated and has a larger group of dhol-tasha creating more dissonance in the ambience.

All this naturally descends into collection of funds to meet huge expenses which should not be necessary in the first place, but who cares. The same people who cannot make our roads or the city clean and give basic security, are the force behind the mandals. In such a circumstance, why should they bother about the rest of us residents of Pune?

The festival has become a pain. It is like watching awful programmes / news on TV. Just because we watch it does not mean we like and appreciate it. When everything is mediocre, we have to revel in that mediocrity, which is what this festival has become, pedestrian and irritating.

The media has made much noise about the privacy judgement from the Supreme Court, and how it will impact Aadhar, LGBT, what we eat, what we wear, what we do inside our homes, basically highlighting where the govt and administration cannot intervene. How about the noise made by Ganpati mandals? They are invading our privacy by overwhelming us with unsolicited noise pollution. Why the silence in the media on this issue? Observe the loud music emanating from every Ganpati temple on every Chaturthi. Who has permitted them let alone invited them to blast the public with their bhajans? Our privacy has been blown to bits. By law, those speakers should be inside the temple, and the volume should be just enough for those inside the temple to hear it. Can the people with power and promoters of innumerable mitra mandals do this? If they can, they will be doing a great service to Pune and the country.

We the people of this city will revere and thank them for this. Students, the sick, elderly, infirm, pedestrians, shop owners and small kids are being invaded by the music, dhol-tasha drums and lectures on loud speakers. This has to stop. Pune needs new fresh thoughts and actions. For too long we have watched the Ganesh festivities going out of control and become a menace rather than being soothing and inviting. We don’t need to think out of the box; the box is good, we need to remove the dirty political and ‘dadagiri’ cobwebs from the Ganpati Boxes, clear out the crass, arrogant, uncompromising, faithless controllers of this revered event. This is not what Lokmanya Tilak wanted Punekars to do, shame on us.

Ganesh Festival coverage has been constructive, entertaining

The headline of the copy ‘Pune’s eco-sensitivity index on a historic high’, August 26, jumped out at me and set me thinking. Over the years, one has certainly heard more and more people complain about pollution and talk about ecofriendly ways to celebrate a festival. But more often than not, the fervour crests during a festival and subsides almost instantly. We, as common citizens, going about the issue as a normal ‘business- as-usual’, do not always know whom to turn to for the more ecofriendly path. Sometimes, the path is obscure and at times, it is too long and time consuming for us to tread on, especially while chasing our children for better grades, making sure the light bills are paid on time and getting a nutritious dinner on the table every day.

A one-off piece on how Ganesh idols made of Shadu-mati does catch the eye, but all good intentions get stuck in the long commute to work and back. However, if I am reminded again the next day about what else I can do to make my festival ecofriendly, the Shadu-mati Ganpati also comes back to my mind.

Repetition, say experts, is the key to forming good habits. So when Hindustan Times runs a concerted, colourful, interesting campaign every day well in advance of the festival, it gives me time to read, reflect and react. When I see the piece on how an organisation working to collect compostable ‘nirmalya’ (flower offerings) needs volunteers, I make plans to register.

When I see another piece on how Pune needs out-of-box thinking for solving traffic and noise issues during festivals (Ganesh Festival needs out-of-box thinking, August 27), or how different communities have woven themselves into the fabric of Pune’s Ganesh fest (Love for Ganesha spread across the city, August 29), be they from other parts of the country, it jogs my memory and nudges me into participation and I attempt to look for the link again, to register for volunteering at the riverside to divert nirmalya.

The piece on taking a Ganesh heritage walk ( Weekend Fix, August 26) may not galvanise me into walking, but it piques my interest enough to know more about the ‘Manache Ganapati’. Lo and behold, you carry a piece on the very subject that had my interest piqued with each one of the ‘Manache Ganpati’ featuring in with just enough detail (Meet Pune’s revered Ganeshas and peoples’ ‘Manache Ganpati’, August 28). Better yet, there is a news item on how this year all the Manache Ganpati will have their nirmalya composted in a PMC driven venture, along with SWaCH.

A consistent campaign on a subject is certainly more educational. But more importantly, I believe it adds to the festive atmosphere. With every one of us hurrying and scurrying these days, it is not always possible to connect personally with everything that happens. When festival celebrations in my city come to my doorstep every morning, along with my cup of tea, it makes my own day more festive. It brightens my day, even if I have my head buried in the files on a computer or wrapped up in the files of my dusty office.

We are fortunate to have an aware citizenry in Pune as is evidenced by the rising count of volunteers for all good causes and concerted efforts to bring the festivals, ‘Dos and Don’ts’, how-to, what-to, where-in-the-city, etc. Such coverage which arrives at our doorstep every morning with a dedicated campaign will only grow this awareness and make us more participative.

It is not only about eco-friendly Ganeshas, but also about other events, festivals and happenings. For an ecofriendly festival, Bappa beats and more. Happy Ganesh festival to all.

Suchismita Pai