August 26, 2016 11:57:58 pm
AS THE countdown begins for Ganpati, grand celebrations are expected with housing societies being asked to contribute exorbitant amounts — sometimes as high as even Rs 5,000 — creating a bit of anxiety among residents who feel that donations should be made voluntarily.
While the celebrations bring together the members of housing societies, the practice of donations is irking a few residents.
In Manikbaug, for instance, residents of Sunder Park society were taken aback when the mandal in its locality sought a donation of Rs 5,000 for the celebrations, saying they want to set up a dhol tasha troupe. “The way Ganesh mandals demand donation is not acceptable, it should be as per the wish of each individual,” said a society resident who feels they would be compelled to give the amount asked just to keep up appearances.
“If we meet the demand of mandals then that would set a wrong trend and if we don’t then our son would be teased by his friends who are members of the mandal,” he said, explaining his Catch-22 situation.
In NIBM Road area, youths of housing societies have made Rs 600 mandatory from each apartment to celebrate the festivals within the premises. “The housing society cannot spend money from its funds collected for maintenance so it demands separately for the festivals by putting a fixed amount. Some do not agree to the amount decided, but pay to keep up appearances among society members,” said another resident.
When contacted, the city police clarified that it would not tolerate any forced demand of donation for the festival. “Residents should inform the police if anyone forcible demands donation for the celebration of the festival publicly. The police will take appropriate action against them and I have given directions to all police stations to take action on complaints,” said Police Commissioner Rashmi Shukla.
Ashish Joshi, a resident of Shukarwar Peth, said the Ganesh festival celebrations are quite big in his area as it’s in the central part of the city. “The mandal close to our residence has been operating for a few decades. The mandal representatives do request donations but there is no compulsion on a fixed amount. We cannot turn down the mandal representatives so voluntarily give the amount we want,” he said.
In Pimpri-Chinchwad, Goyal residency society has directed the security to not allow any mandal activists to enter the premises. “The mandal activists are banned on society premises but there are some instances when people do enter,” said a resident of the society.
However, he justified the demand of donation within the society saying that its funds cannot be used for festival celebrations. “The expenditure for the celebrations have to be incurred from within the society as it also helps in giving an excuse to mandal representatives that since we are having our own celebrations we are unable to contribute to mandals.” Sri Krishna Mandal in Kothrud has found a way to avoid the wrath of residents. “We look for sponsors for the celebration and also raise funds by charging for advertisements put up in the pandal. There are many individual citizens who donate money for the festival but most comes from sponsorships,” said Mohan Jadhav, a mandal representative.
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