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Trapped in the past, Pune’s Ganesh mandals fail to reform

Potholes due to pandal installation, traffic congestion irks citizens as city prepares for the festival

pune Updated: Aug 22, 2017 10:25 IST
Shrinivas Deshpande
Shrinivas Deshpande
Hindustan Times, Pune
dhol tasha,ganeshotsav,125th year
Narrow roads have become narrower due to installation of pandals.(HT Photo)

Ganeshotsav has a glorious tradition in Pune. This year many mandals are celebrating the 125th anniversary of the ‘Sarvajanik Ganesh Festival’ and hence, they have decided to make this event a spectacular one. But in the process, mandals have ignored the warnings given by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) regarding road digging.The rules for installation of the pandals have already been laid down clearly.

Digging of roads for installation of pandals in the middle of the street and crowded congregations are already causing traffic snarls in many parts of the city. This is causing inconvenience to many residents making their way through narrow streets. Pandals have been built in the middle of the street, thus, obstructing traffic.

Sadashiv Peth is one such area, which is facing traffic problems since the last 15 days. The construction of pandals started 15 days ago in this area. Work on the pandal is done during the day, halting traffic movement. The already narrow lanes of Sadashiv Peth, have been made narrower with these pandals, increasing traffic congestion.

Additional municipal commissioner, Sheetal Ugale, said,‘‘Permissions for installing a pandal has been given by the respective authority. We have our own policy regarding pandal construction on roads and all Ganesh mandals must follow it. If any mandal breaks any of the rules, strict action will taken against them.’’

According to policy, road digging is not allowed. The Ganesh mandals should use trench-less methods for installing a pandal. Apart from this, the administration will act against mandals which encroach the roads and obstruct traffic. Criminal offences will be filed against the mandals for not following proper guidelines given by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC).

The pandals installed in narrow lanes almost reach the second floor of some buildings. Many residents are inconvenienced. Responding to this, Amar Pandit, a resident of Sadashiv Peth, said, “Every year, we face these difficulties, I know nothing will happen because each corporator belongs to some or the other mandal, hence, police take no action.” We have to tolerate this for the next 10-15 days, he added.

Senior citizen Vijaya Naik said, “It becomes difficult for us to walk during the festival season specially Ganeshostav. We face a lot of difficulty while crossing roads. Hence, I avoid going outside my home.”

Balasaheb Marane (Hutatma Babu Genu Ganesh Mandal) said, “Every year we avoid digging of roads. We use the folding method. We always respect the guidelines given by the civic body.”

According to the Bombay high court (2015), no festival should be celebrated by obstructing roads or breaching the law, causing annoyance to a large number of citizens. No person can claim their right under Article 25 of the Indian Constitution (freedom to profess one's religion) to celebrate festivals by obstructing roads. Religious festivals have to be celebrated in a meaningful manner.

Following the high court order, many municipal corporations in the state, including the PMC, drafted a policy for pandals during festivals. But hardly any Ganesh mandal follows it.

PMC shifts Dhol Tasha event to Balewadi

Taking cue from the poor response the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) got for the bike rally due to rains, the PMC has now changed the venue and date of the Dhol Tasha event.

Earlier, the Dhol Tasha event was planned for August 23 at SP College ground but now it will happen at the Balewadi Sports complex on August 27.

The mayor Mukta Tilak’s office confirmed the change in date and venue. Considering the monsoon, PMC decided to change the venue and date of the event.

PMC had organised a bike rally on Sunday (August 20) which got poor response due to heavy rains. PMC planned for around 1,000 bikes to participate in the rally but only 100 turned up.

If the rains continue, it would be difficult for the Dhol Tasha players to play in an open ground and hence, the PMC decided to shift it to the Balewadi sports complex.

PMC has also decided to shift the eco-Ganesh making event to Balewadi but has not finalised it.

(With inputs from Abhay Khairnar)

First Published: Aug 22, 2017 10:11 IST