THE Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has proposed to withhold the lease agreement of a welfare centre allotted to the popular Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshostav Mandal, to recover a fine of Rs 34.77 lakh imposed on the mandal for digging roads and pavements while erecting their pandal and ramp for the Ganesh festival.
Civic officials said that the BMC fined the mandal Rs 34.77 lakh for erecting some unauthorised sections of the pandal and for leaving a number of potholes on the roads and footpaths during the Ganesh festival from 2012 to 2014. The Mandal paid last year’s penalty amount after an uproar, but despite several notices and reminders, has not paid the penalty for the 2012-2014 period, said a senior civic official. “Every year, we write to them to pay the penalty. Since they don’t, we forfeit the Mandal’s deposit, but its is far lesser than the penalty amount,” said the official.
Hence, Vishwas Mote, assistant municipal commissioner of the F South Ward of the BMC, has written to the Estates Department proposing to recover the amount due through the Municipal Built Up Welfare Centre allotted to the Lalbaugcha Raja on a caretaker basis for five years. “The ward office has requested the Estates department to recover a total sum of Rs 34.77 lakh from the Mandal before further renewal of lease agreement,” said a senior official.
The matter should be considered on ‘top priority’ since it is related with revenue issues, added the official. As per the civic body’s policy, a fine of Rs 2,000 per pothole is levied on Ganesh Mandals who fail repair roads dug-up during the festival.
“There is no alternative to recover the dues from the Mandal. Since it is civic issue, the charity commissioner too may not be able to take action in the matter. So, we decided to recover the dues before renewing the lease agreement of the welfare centre of the Mandal,” explained the official.
Officials from the Estates department said it has sought remarks on it to see whether the penalty can be recovered.
However, office bearers of the Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshostav Mandal said they were unaware of any such move by the BMC. “We haven’t received any such letter,” said Balasaheb Kamble, president of the Mandal.