AHEAD of Ganeshotsav next week, the Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshutsav Samanvay Samiti and the Brihanumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) are at loggerheads with each other over permissions for setting up pandals in the city. The Samiti claims that officials from the BMC have objected to putting up banners and digging holes for setting up the pandals.
Days ahead of the ten-day festival, 17 out of 738 Ganesh mandals have received the necessary permissions from the BMC to erect pandals, according to figures revealed by the BMC. While applications of 60 pandals have been rejected, permissions of 580 pandals are still awaited.
Members of the Samiti claim officials from the corporation are objecting to pandals at grounds which they have used for erecting Ganesh pandals for years. While they have acquired the required clearances for setting up pandals, the process has been delayed.
“We have been setting up a pandal on a sand pitch near the main road since years. The land is owned by the BMC and we pay an annual rent to them for the same. Due to the presence of certain non-Hindu religious groups in the area, officials from the Corporation and the police are not giving us due permission to set up the pandal,” said Dayanand Ayodhyaya from Sheth Ganesh Mitra Mandal in Anushakti Nagar in Chembur.
However, a senior official from the BMC expressed caution over giving permission in haste. “We are analysing the law and order order problem around the area with the assistance of local police. The tension between two religious groups in the area has increased in the past two to three years and we want to exercise caution before giving permissions. A decision on granting permission will be taken in the coming one or two days,” he said.
Festival organisers said that officials from the BMC had also objected to setting up banners of respective mandals ahead of the ten-day festival. “Officials claim we must set up banners only during the ten days of the festival. They object to any promotion before the festival begins. A few pandals also faced problems while digging holes on the road for setting up their pandals,” said Naresh Dahibaonkar, president of the Samiti.
He added that he had approached Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis over the issue. “The BMC takes interest in the holes dug on the road when our pandals are constructed. Should we show them the number of potholes on roads? When we are trying to cooperate with them over their demands, what makes them turn a blind eye to our problems?” Dahibaonkar asked.
“It is mandatory for the mandals to follow the rules stated by the judiciary and the government. If the rule does not allow them to set up banners ahead of the festive, we cannot allow them. It is not like we are restricting them from doing something but only asking them to abide by the law,” said Anand Waghralkar, Deputy Municipal Commissioner, BMC.
“It takes at least a month’s time to process the required clearances from traffic police, local police and fire-control department for giving permission to set up the pandal. As many of them submitted their applications quite late, they will have to face a delay in getting the due permissions,” Waghraljkar added.