80 pending cases against errant mandals withdrawn
With almost 80 cases pending since the past six years, the state government has taken a lenient step and withdrawn all cases charged against the volunteers of the Ganesh Mandals.
The move has come prior to the PMC election that is round the corner. Cases that were filed in 2004 against Ganesh mandals for flouting the noise decibel levels and against the volunteers, who created a riot like situation at Vijay Talkij Chowk, on the day of immersion, have been cleared. Incidentally, one of the names featured in the list was of the PMC Standing Committee Chairman, Ganesh Bidkar.
When contacted, Bidkar agreed that six years ago he was registered in a case for flouting the noise decibel norm set by the Supreme Court. "I am no longer a Ganpati worker," he said refusing to comment further.
Advocate Pratap Pardeshi, a pleader for Ganpati Mandals, said, "It is really strange that the list of 80 cases against violators were suddenly called off by the state home department. The cases are very old and probably because of the upcoming PMC election, the cases have been dismissed."
He added that the list is also incomplete because it does not have details of most of the mandals. "So far I could contact only three mandals and succeeded in officially clearing the cases," he said. Pardeshi said taking back the court cases is a tedious task. "I have to present the mandal presidents and their office bearers before the court, before officially clearing the case," he added.
Anand Saraf, president of Vidhayak Ganpati Festival Trust said that nobody has been booked for flouting noise pollution norms this year, but the police are taking note of mandals, that have been flouting other guidelines. Several mandals have been booked for increasing the pandal size, he added. Saraf said police cases registered against mandal office bearers are quite demoralising as this has affected the number of volunteers this year. "Nobody wants to get involved in any kind of police case," he said.