Ganesha mandals skirt their way around idol height cut, complaints follow

On July 11, in view of rising Covid-19 cases in the state, the home department of the Maharashtra government published a notification capping the height of Ganesh idols to four-feet for Sarvajanik idols. However, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board said the height restriction was just a guideline and not a law.
An artisan works to prepare Lord Ganesha idols on the eve of Ganesh Chaturthi festival.(PTI)
An artisan works to prepare Lord Ganesha idols on the eve of Ganesh Chaturthi festival.(PTI)
Updated on Aug 22, 2020 09:39 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Mumbai | ByBadri Chatterjee

Some city-based mandals have reached out to the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) alleging violation of the height restriction guideline by Sarvajanik mandals for Ganesha idols this year.

On July 11, in view of rising Covid-19 cases in the state, the home department of the Maharashtra government published a notification capping the height of Ganesh idols to four-feet for Sarvajanik idols - groups that install idols along roadside pandals and capped the height of household idols to two feet.

The MPCB said the height restriction was just a guideline and not a law.

“Some complaints have been received where mandals, requesting anonymity since they have followed the guidelines, have objected to height violations. This is a guideline in light of the pandemic to avoid large gatherings near mandals, and it is a request to mandals to follow it but not a mandate. However, from 2021, this will become a law and will be much stricter,” said Sanjay Bhuskute, public relations officer, MPCB.

The Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvay Samiti (BSGSS), umbrella body of Ganesh mandals said idol makers had raised the height of associated materials such as thrones or other platforms (such as a horse, tiger etc.) on which the idol is mounted on while keeping the height of the idol around the suggested guideline, citing it is as a loophole in the restrictions.

“One or two feet here or there is not an issue but the government guideline is specific to the idol and not associated structures. Despite this, we have still requested mandals to ensure any kind of crowds are avoided and focus on online darshan,” said Naresh Dahibhavkar, president, BSGSS.

The umbrella body has appointed a task force of volunteers during the pandemic to ensure citizens do not face difficulties during the pandemic. The task force involves almost 500 volunteers spread across all 24 wards. BSGSS also provided 2,500 masks - 1,500 to the Mumbai police, 500 to the civic body and 500 more to its own volunteers to ensure proper personal protection over the next 11 days.

“There are two issues we are facing at the moment. The first is there is no clear understanding for those residing in containment zones how their immersion procession will happen as they are allowed to bring the idol but not come out of the contained area. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is not complying with our requests,” said Dahibhavkar, adding that the second concern was regarding the accessibility to the recently increased 167 artificial immersion spots in the city. They were 32 up till last year. “Citizens have not been informed about the exact locations yet. We are hoping there will not be any confusion on the day of the immersion processions,” he said.

A senior BMC official said all help would be provided to citizens. “We are discussing the process to deal with immersion at containment zones. Guidelines for this and location specific immersion sites will be released over the weekend,” the official said.

Meanwhile, MPCB will be recording noise levels across 25 locations in Mumbai and 158 locations across 26 municipal corporations across the state over five immersion days. Bhuskute said from 2021 the ban on Plaster of Paris use, compulsory immersion at artificial ponds, height restrictions would be mandatory for idol makers and mandals.

“They will be under scrutiny based on Central Pollution Control Board guidelines. However, it is not clear at the moment whether these guidelines will be under implementation during Maghi Ganesh Chaturthi which falls in February,” he said. Around 25 Ganesh mandals in the city, including the Goud Saraswat Brahmin (GSB) community, have deferred this year’s celebrations to February 15, 2021 in light of the pandemic.

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Thursday, December 09, 2021