Those who have illegally erected Ganpati pandals this year, shall not be allowed to erect pandals next year, the Bombay High Court ordered on Wednesday while directing the municipal corporations to issue notices to organisers of illegal pandals and also remove those unauthorised ones where the idol was yet to be installed.
“Those persons who have illegally erected pandals this year, when they apply for permission next year, their application will have to be rejected as they have carried out breach of rules. We also direct to place on record names and addresses of mandals and particulars if prominent leaders are associated with them,” said the HC.
Justices A S Oka and V L Achliya were hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) which raises the issue of illegal pandals being erected across the state during Dahi Handi and Ganesh Chaturthi festivals and noise pollution rules being flouted.
The court also took note of the petitioner’s submission that the pandals in many cases were put up by prominent leaders. “Those who have taken oath under Constitution of India indulge in such activities then a serious note will have to be taken,” said the Bench.
The petitioner had also filed an affidavit inviting court’s attention to major breaches of previous court orders. This included data provided by Awaaz Foundation pertaining to breach of noise pollution rules during Dahi Handi.
“The data shows complete violation of noise pollution rules,” said the court, observing that no action has been taken against wrong doers. “We direct the Commissioner of Police, Mumbai, to file an affidavit stating what action has been taken during Dahi Handi. The commissioner will have to instruct if he finds no action has been taken. Action should also be initiated against officers who did not take required steps,” said the Bench. The court also took note of illegally erected pandals. The HC said that the BMC had found only one pandal at Slater Road near Grant Road which has been erected without permission and the same will be removed by them.Out of the 350 pandals which have been erected in Thane, 140 were found to be constructed without permission.
Stating that till Tuesday these irregularities were not furnished to either the Commissioner of Police or Municipal commissioners, the court said “Practical difficulties have been pointed out. If the Ganpati idol has been installed this will lead to law and order situation especially with Ganpati festival starting from Thursday.” The court,however, said that this should not deter authorities from issuing notices and calling upon organisers to remove pandals in case the idol has not been installed.