First came the ban on banners. Ganpati mandals would be allowed to put up posters and banners only till 100 metres from their pandals, ruled the BMC. And now the civic body wants organisers of the city’s largest religious festival to also read the fine print. This, they say, clearly states that even within this 100 metre area, only sponsorship banners will be allowed. A circular to this effect was issued to all the Ganesh mandals earlier thisweek.
But will all powerful Ganpati mandals heed BMC’s warning? Organisers of the Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal, which has already run into rough weather with the civic body for non payment of Rs 23 lakh that they allegedly owe the latter, said they would continue displaying banners beyond the 100 metre limit to guide the millions of devotees who come each day to seek the blessings of the Lord.
The Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal is the city’s most visited one with an estimated 15 lakh devotees visiting it in 2012, many of whom spent anywhere between 12 and 24 hours in serpentine queues to catch a glimpse of the Lord. Organisers say if no banners are permitted, there will be chaos as devotees will not know which route to take to reach the pandal.
The Lalbaugcha Raja organisers say they want to put up banners guiding and directing people to the venue like all previous years. Lalbaugcha Raja’s queue begins from Kalachowkie, which is almost a kilometer away from the pandal, and the banners displaying the route are in place two days before the festival. Speaking to SUNDAY MiD DAY, Ashok Pawar, president of Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal, said, “We will continue to display banners so that there is no chaos or confusion. If there are no banners guiding devotees, the police will find it impossible to control people and traffic.” But when contacted, Mohan Adtani, additional municipal commissioner, said, “The rule is binding on every mandal in the city. Banners that are found beyond the pandal’s 100 meter area will be removed and the organisers fined.”