There has been a rise of 10 to 15 per cent in the number of registered and unregistered Ganesh mandals in four zones of the city, mainly due to rising political aspirations at the local level. The result is more noise pollution and clogging of roads. The police expect even more number of mandals next year because of the scheduled civic polls in 2017.
“In the small alley next to our house, there were two Ganesh mandals last year and this year we have four, two smaller ones being the new addition,” said Madhukar Sawant, a resident of Erandwane. “I understand the enthusiasm of youth, but noise through the day and traffic jams these installations cause are troublesome. Is this the way we want to celebrate a festival which is our identity?” added Sawant.
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Deputy Commissioner of Police (Special Branch) Shrikant Pathak said, “There is a slight rise in the number of registered Ganesh mandals in the jurisdiction of Pune police.” As per the data released by the Special Branch, the total number has gone up from around 4,000 to 4,200.
Tushar Doshi, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone I), said, “As per our assessment, the number of unregistered Ganesh mandals has gone up. One of the reasons being local political aspirations. And, we expect this number to go up further because of the scheduled civic election in the city in 2017.”
An officer from the Special Branch said, “As per our estimate, the total rise in the number of registered and unregistered mandals is between 10 and 15 per cent. Many smaller Ganesh mandals have support from local political leaders. In some areas, we have also observed that people who set up a Ganesh Mandal also have some criminal background or have backing of local goons. There are cases where citizens, especially businessmen, are harassed for “vargani” (monetory contributions to Ganesh mandals.) Earlier, there used to be just one or two mandals in an area. Now, there is one for each residential society, one in every alley, one for every street and one set up by local politicians.”
Mandar Joshi of the Akhil Mandai Ganesh Mandal, one of the oldest mandals in Pune, said, “Small Ganesh mandals are mushrooming but the question is do they really serve the purpose for which Lokmanya Tilak had started this tradition of publicly celebrating Ganesh festival? Hardly any of them work to spread awareness about social issues. This rise in number is hardly of any use.”