After the Bombay High Court acted tough against the Ganesh mandals erecting pandals without the requisite permission or more than the permissible size, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has now undertaken an exercise to identify pandals that are oversize and issue notices to the mandals concerned.
On September 15, the organisers of a Ganesh mandal were penalised Rs 1 lakh by the Bombay High Court for setting up an pandal without permission on Thane-Belapur road in Navi Mumbai. The organisers were directed to pay the amount to the chief minister’s relief fund. The court had also asked the organisers to submit an undertaking that it would not obstruct traffic and would abide by the noise pollution rules.
“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 names of all the 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,” said the court.
The PMC has directed its staff in ward offices to identify illegal, as well as oversize, pandals and compile the information along with photographs. “The civic staff have been asked to visit their jurisdiction and compile a list of illegal pandals that will be submitted before the high court,” said a civic officer.
The PMC administration had also been asked to issue notices to erring Ganesh mandals and submit a copy to the local police stations, he said. The civic administration has also decided to undertake a special anti-encroachment drive on roads during Ganesh festival to ensure smooth flow of traffic.
According to the court’s earlier orders, collectors were directed to constitute a team of revenue officers in each corporation to check whether pandals had 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.
Pune is known for its extravagance during Ganesh festival. There are around 1,500 mandals in the city and the number increases every year. Most of the mandals set up pandals on roads and footpaths.
“The PMC had already made some strict rules for pandals by limiting their size to a maximum of one-third of the total road width as against half-the-size-of-the-road norm in the past. Also, it was made compulsory for mandals to get a no-objection certificate from the local police station while seeking permission to set up pandals,” said a civic officer.
The permission was granted by the ward offices so the information of the permissions given and illegal pandals would be collected from all the 15 ward offices to submit it to the high court, he said.