Monday Musings: Good work by Pune police for Ganeshotsav, but more needs to be doneUpdated: Sep 16, 2019 15:07 IST
Ganeshotsav 2019 will be memorable for the smooth and timely conduct of the majestic immersion processions and lower decibel levels as compared to the past. Ganesh mandals and Pune police deserve kudos for this, but more needs to be done
The Ganeshotsav celebrations that just passed by will be memorable on at least two counts: For the first time in a decade, the city’s majestic Ganesh immersion procession that passes through Laxmi road and Tilak road closed in a record 23.45 hours.
The fact that it took less than 24 hours for this slow-moving procession on a four-and-a-half kilometre stretch to conclude is a commendable feat. In the past, this procession has taken anywhere between 26 to 29 hours and more to conclude.
The second reason why Ganeshotsav 2019 will be memorable, is noise pollution levels. Both, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and a team from College of Engineering Pune (COEP) have reported that noise levels this time were marginally lower- about 8-10 decibels- than previous years.
Anecdotal feedback from residents in various parts of the city confirms that noise levels were much lower. Some irresponsible housing societies in localities such as Bopodi did have blaring DJ music on the 10th day, which was conveniently ignored by the Bopodi-Khadki police. However, by and large, noise levels were indeed on the lower side.
This was again, because of the firm stand taken by the Pune police against DJ music and the installation of ‘speaker walls’ by various Ganpati mandals.
Indeed, credit is due to Pune police commissioner K Venkatesham for the smooth and orderly conduct of Ganeshotsav this year. As is well-known, numerous meeting were held with Ganesh mandals in the city and they were urged to reform with the times.
The mandals were urged to cooperate with the police and the public and not create nuisance by blocking roads with giant mandaps, playing blaring, ear-splitting music and delaying the procession by hours together to register self-importance.
Multiple meetings had to be held to underscore these points, and indeed, these efforts by the police have borne fruit.
Noise pollution watchers noted that noise levels had not reduced significantly because of the high decibel sound from the dhol-tasha troupes. Progressive minds from the city, especially those from organisations such as the Jnana Prabhodini must pay attention to this in order to bring down decibels to optimum levels.
What is acceptable to the pollution control board is 75 decibels- the upper limit for noise in places with commercial activity and not 96 and 100 decibels-plus as was the case.
A third factor that needs to be addressed effectively is that of extortion. Popular festivals is the time when Ganeshotsav contributions are “demanded” by various registered and un-registered mandals from residents and traders in the area. Most people pay up meekly rather than face the wrath of these Ganesh mandal representatives in their neighbourhoods. But when things go out of hand and turn ugly, police complaints are filed and reported prominently by the media as happens every year.
Ganeshotsav is a very joyous occasion and even a small token contribution ought to be enough for a dignified celebration. No one needs to pay up in thousands to these mandals. Specific limits should be set for these contributions and an appropriate receipt issued. Any demand beyond this ought to be viewed as extortion inviting prompt action from the police.
Ganesh mandals and the Pune police thus have a four-fold responsibility towards the people of Pune: Ensure that the Ganesh immersion procession concludes in an optimum time span; do not block prominent roads and by lanes of the city with giant mandaps, exercise strict control to prevent noise pollution and take stern measures to prevent extortion by Ganesh mandals.
A determined pursuit of these objectives will undoubtedly bring back the dignity of Ganeshotsav celebrations.