The Bombay High Court on Tuesday ordered organisers of a Ganesh pandal on Thane-Belapur Road to pay Rs 1 lakh by Wednesday to the Chief Minister’s relief fund. The court imposed the penalty as the mandal had erected the pandal without requisite permissions.
The court also asked the trust to submit an undertaking that it will not obstruct traffic and will abide by noise pollution rules.
Justices A S Oka and V L Achliya were hearing a petition related to the pandal erected by Navyug Mitra Mandal which was obstructing traffic on the Thane-Belapur Road. On Monday, the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation had informed the court that the 10-ft-wide pandal occupied one lane while three lanes were available for traffic.
“Bring a cheque of Rs one lakh along with the undertaking. A signal needs to be sent loud and clear now,” the court said.
When the organisers said that they could only pay Rs 25,000 as compensation, the bench enquired about the cost of the pandal. The court was informed that it cost Rs 8 lakh to build. “What if we ask you to demolish the pandal? Then you will have to reconstruct it again spending a similar amount,” the court pointed out, asking them to increase the amount they were willing to pay.
Hearing another public interest litigation on the issue of illegal pandals being erected across the state during Dahi Handi and Ganesh Chaturthi festivals and noise pollution rules being flouted, the HC said that it would look at issuing contempt notices to all political parties, trusts and organisations that set up pandals without permissions.
The bench was informed by senior advocate S Gorwadkar, appearing for one of the petitioners, Mahesh Bedekar, that during Dahi Handi, several pandals had flouted noise pollution rules, but no action was taken by the civic body concerned.
According to readings recorded by Awaaz Foundation, the decibel levels at several pandals erected by political parties like Shiv Sena (Shivaji Park), Congress (Worli) and MNS (Dadar and Thane) were above the prescribed level.
Gorwadkar also said that in some cases, while pandals had been erected without permission, others had not displayed their permissions in accordance with HC orders.
“We are taking a serious view of the fact that civic body officials are not taking action against such pandals. We are going to direct the corporation concerned to give us a list of the names of all those pandals that have been erected without permission. We will initiate contempt proceedings against them. Apart from the pandals, officials who failed to take action will also face contempt,” the court said, adding that they could also take action against institutions under the Public Trust Act.
According to the court’s earlier orders, collectors were directed to constitute a team of revenue officers in each corporation to check whether pandals have been erected on footpaths and roads without permission. On Tuesday, the court asked the government to inform them if officials had visited the sites and submitted their reports.
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