Dahi Handi, Ganeshotsav and Navratri are lined up for the next few months, and many citizens fear that this will hamper easy movement of pedestrians, cyclists and bus commuters.
Civic officials and police have already restricted permission to such pandals and have allowed them to occupy only one-third of a road’s width. However, no conditions have been set for erection of pandals on footpaths, cycle trails and bus stops. Many mandals have already started setting up tents, eating into available road space.
Jugal Rathi, one of the activists who have sent a letter to PMC commissioner and police chief, said, “The state of the footpaths, cycle tracks and bus stops is already deplorable. Festival pandals would add to the misery. We have seen that many of these pavilions are instated at crowded locations weeks ahead of the actual festivities.”
“We have demanded the authorities not give permission for pandals on footpaths, cycle tracks and bus stops. In case consent has to be issued for partial or full blockage of these places, an equivalent amount of space should be earmarked by placing barricades as necessary. After assigning such sections on these roads, traffic be reorganised in the remaining road space, or diverted as necessary on festival days,” he said.
Minimising the damage should be the priority, activists say. “The pandals should be installed only one week in advance and mandated to be removed a day or two after the celebrations. In the event of traffic reorganisation or diversion, first the movement of personal vehicles should be restricted or banned partially or fully on certain stretches, and only then should restrictions on public transport be considered,” Rathi maintained.
Madhav Jagtap, chief of anti-encroachment department of PMC, was unavailable for comments.