BMC to popular Ganesh mandals: Fill holes drilled into roads in 7 days or pay the price
After being unable to recover Rs 28 lakh from Lalbaugcha Raja and Ganesh Galli mandals for holes dug last year, the BMC has threatened to add the fine to their property tax this year if they don't fill them up by this week.
When it comes to collecting fines from institutions that deface the city’s already pockmarked roads, BMC does anything but a fine job -- while road contractors often go scot-free for not plugging potholes, the civic body is yet to collect a whopping Rs 28 lakh from two of the city’s most eminent Ganpati mandals, that too for holes they had dug up last year for Ganeshotsav.
This year, however, the BMC has vowed to speed up the process of fine collection, and has given mandals seven days to plug the holes that their festivities have left behind on the roads. With their Wednesday deadline fast approaching, BMC authorities are getting ready to do the rounds and draw up the notices.
The BMC has learnt its lessons the hard way. Ganpati mandals are notorious for wriggling through the gaping loopholes in the BMC’s fine collection system, and dodging fines for adding their own brand of holes on the roads during Ganeshotsav every year. In July, BMC slapped a fine of Rs 23.56 lakh on the Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal for leaving no less than 953 holes on the road leading up to their mandals -- only to be stung by the defiant response from the mandal that they were not responsible for the crevasses.
In no mood to entertain such responses this year, the BMC has given mandals till Wednesday to fill up all the holes that they drilled into the roads. They will be inspecting the mandals on Thursday and Friday, and have promised to promptly levy fines on mandals for every hole left untended. Notices demanding fines will be dispatched as soon as the inspections are over.
While the cash-rich Lalbaugcha Raja mandal is yet to cough up Rs 23.56 lakh for the holes they drilled for Ganpati celebrations in 2012, the Lalbaug Sarvajanik Utsav Mandal of Ganesh Galli fame owes them Rs 5 lakh. With neither mandal having paid up, the administration has a plan B up its sleeve to collect the whopping fines from the errant mandals -- they plan to recover these fines from the property tax bills that are issued to the mandals.
For errant mandals who leave holes untended even after the Wednesday deadline this year, the BMC administration will charge each mandal Rs 2,000 for every hole that is left unplugged. If the mandals don’t pay even after being slapped with notices, the amount will be adjusted in their property tax bills. The BMC had allowed mandals to drill holes into the roads for Ganeshotsav, on the condition that they would even them out within the week that follows celebrations. BMC’s senior officers claim that they had issued notices to Lalbaugcha Raja mandal and Lalbaug Utsav mandal last year itself, but received no reply.
Additional Municipal Commissioner Mohan Adtani, said, “Orders are given to officers of various wards to check the status of the roads and inspect whether the mandals have filled up the holes or not. If they have not, Rs 2,000 will be collected for every hole that they have left untended. In case of Lalbaugcha Raja and Ganesh Galli, they had refused to make any payment, but we have the option of charging them in their property tax bills. After inspection, the total fine will be charged, taking both years into account.”
Mandals will have to pay Rs 2,000 for every hole that is left unattended
Fine to be charged per hole left untended by mandals
Rs 23 lakh
Fine owed to the BMC by Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal for 2012
Number of holes made in the road by Lalbaugcha Raja mandal in 2012
Rs 5 lakh
Fine owed to the BMC by Lalbaug Sarvajanik Utsav Mandal, Ganesh Galli for 2012
We will be filling roads that have been dug in the process of building the pandal this year. But we have not got any notice on Rs 5 lakh amount as fine.
-- Swapnil Parab, secretary, Lalbaug Sarvajanik Utsav Mandal, Ganesh Galli
We are not liable to paying any fine as we have not dug any holes last year and we will not be paying the Rs 23 lakh. The roads dug up this year for the pandals will be filled in few days, as dismantling of the pandal is still going on.
-- Ashok Pawar, president, Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal