Municipal Commissioner Mahesh Pathak has supported police officials who are against the erection of box arches during Dahi Handi and Ganeshotsav. Pathak announced his support to the move at the special meeting held last Sunday at PMC headquarters in Shivajinagar. Commissioner of Police Gulabrao Pol had called the meeting, and he welcomed Pathak’s support. “Box arches can be used for planting bombs. Therefore we should stop this practice and support the city police,” Pathak said.
Dahi Handi and Ganesh mandals erecting box arches to attract advertisers to make money has become a common practice. As a measure to secure public places, Pathak had issued orders to install CCTV cameras at about 90,000 business establishments in the city under the provision of Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporation Act. He said there should not be any political interference on the same.
“Security is PMC’s top priority, and we shall follow orders given by the police regarding erection of box arches. This time the situation is different than the previous years as serial blasts had taken place on JM Road on August 1,” Pathak said. “We are not just objecting to erection of box arches, but also the size of pandals on roads during festival days. This year first we’ll observe and then give permissions to mandals.”
Executive President of Sainath Mandal in Budhwar Peth Piyush Shah expressed displeasure over the decision taken by the police and the PMC.
“Several Ganapati mandals had openly protested the decision last year and finally sought permission for erecting two box arches. We are ready to leave six feet of space on both sides of the road, and there will not be any bomb threat. Erecting arches for getting advertisement is the only source of income for many Ganapati mandals and it should not be hampered,” Shah said.
Anand Saraf, a scholar on Ganeshotsav festival in the city, said considering the present situation, Ganapati mandals should follow the code of conduct and should not jump their jurisdiction. “Some Ganapati mandals are erecting box arches far away from the jurisdiction of their own pandals,” Saraf said.
Saraf lamented that the police and the PMC were applying a dual policy. He said fore several events, including marathon and political meets, organisers were allowed to erect box arches. “Police and PMC should not differentiate Ganapati mandals from other,” Saraf said.