THE initiative of immersing Ganpati idols in an eco-friendly manner on the premises of the Mayor’s bungalow at Shivaji Park, which had been started by former mayor Shubha Raul in 2008, has been derailed by Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar citing security threats. The decision to shift the artificial pool to Krida Bhawan in Dadar, however, has not gone down well with local residents, who have complained to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) alleging poor management and over crowding at the new venue.
One such resident of Dadar, 27-year-old Viren Vesuwala, who has been immersing Ganapati idols with his family at the Mayor’s bungalow for the past seven years, said he had a harrowing experience when he went to immerse his idol on August 31.
“Like every year, I went to the bungalow, only to find out that the venue had been shifted elsewhere. The Krida Bhawan ground was much smaller and many people were unaware about the change of venue, adding to the traffic congestion. Due to the floods on the fifth day of the festival, many people who couldn’t immerse their idols came on the seventh day, adding to the already crowded ground,” he said.
Vesuwala added that the move to immerse idols at the Mayor’s bungalow was part of an eco-friendly initiative to encourage people to immerse idols in artificial pools instead of the sea.
“The idea of eco-friendly immersion was defeated to some extent because of the change of venue. Owing to the endless wait, some of the bhakts opted to immerse their idols in Dadar Chowpatty beach. All because of the shifting of the venue, which shouldn’t have been done in the first place,” he said.
Vesuwala has written to the G South ward office asking them to allow immersions at the original venue.
Another resident, 21-year-old Saimandar Waghdhare, faced similar troubles on the fifth day of immersion.
“We crossed the new venue and by the time we reached the mayor’s bungalow, we were told that we would have to go around Shivaji Park since the road is one-way. Due to the heavy traffic, it took us more than an hour to come back to Krida Bhawan, which only added to the crowd,” he said.
While mayor Mahadeshwar could not be reached for a comment, the assistant municipal commissioner of G South ward, Ramakant Biradar, said the venue had been shifted on orders from the mayor.
“The mayor had written to us about a month ago, asking us to shift the venue owing to security threats. We simply followed the orders of the first citizen,” Biradar said.
Denying the allegations of the residents, he said information boards about the change in venue have been put up at six locations in Dadar.
“The new venue is on the same road as the Mayor’s bungalow. Besides, people’s feedback of the Krida Bhawan has been good and some of them even said that there is more space there than at the Mayor’s bungalow. We have even provided parking space at the new venue,” he said.