Mumbai roads already riddled with potholes are now dealing with more holes left behind by Ganesh mandaps across the city. With the inspection of mandaps in all the wards yet to fully take off, it will take at least a week before the civic body completes the task of filling the potholes and repairing the roads.
The first mandaps to have been inspected include Lalbaugcha Raja, which has been slapped a fine of Rs 4.5 lakh. “Ward officials found more than 220 potholes made by poles erected to maintain queues, without permission of the ward. We have charged them a fine of Rs 2,000 per pothole, which amounts to Rs 4.5 lakh. We will start the repairing work as soon as the inspection is complete and will ensure citizens are not inconvenienced,” said Kishore Desai, Assistant Municipal Commissioner of E ward.
While A ward and others are yet to begin the inspections, officials from K West said heavy rains were posing as an impediment. “We have started conducting the inspections. However, the officials are also needed for other maintenance-related work due to the heavy rains. The repairing work should begin by next week,” said an official.
Even though statistics provided by the civic body indicates that permissions had been granted to around 1,000 mandaps in the city, it is known that a larger number of unauthorised pandals also crop up during the 10-day festival. Residents of various areas demanded that the civic body adopt a more proactive system to take better care of the city’s roads.
Civic activist from Matunga Nikhil Desai pointed out that some potholes created by Ganesh mandaps had been there for past many years since the BMC didn’t fill all of them. “Year after year, the Ganesh mandals dig holes in the roads to install the lighting poles. The BMC doesn’t fill in these potholes and the Ganesh mandaps reuse many of them the next year. It is all an eyewash and the roads are being damaged every year,” he said.
Desai added that the civic body should think of harsher punishment than slapping a fine. “Several pandals near Wadala come up without prior permission and due to the political support they get, most get away without paying the fines. The civic body should instead take criminal action against the defaulters,” he said. Sharing similar view, activist Anil Joseph, a Bandra resident, said the civic body should come up with a protocol for the pandals to ensure minimum damage to the roads.
“The BMC should come up with a protocol mentioning the specifications of the Ganesh mandaps and the manner of its construction to ensure the roads are not damaged in any way. Following the protocol should be made a prerequisite for next year’s permissions,” he said. Joseph added that the civic body should take these steps on their own rather than wait for the High Court to intervene.