Despite repeated attempts to cut down the menace of illegal hoardings, many ‘dahihandi’ organisers are seen violating High Court’s norm before the festival. Chowks in the city are infested with illegal hoardings and banners by political parties and Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) officials have been turned into mere spectators.
A few days ago, dahihandi festival organisers manhandled some officials after they were asked to take down illegal hoardings at Nagar Road. It is a known fact that local corporators and politicians support Ganesh Mandals and Dahihandi organising groups.
According to High Court’s orders to the civic body, no political party or an organisation can put up hoardings for any kind of promotion without prior permission from the PMC. However, many hoardings have sprung up at important locations and chowks for Dahihandi celebrations on August 29. When contacted D G More, additional head of the anti-encroachment department, he said that the department has not revived any applications regarding hoarding, which points to the fact that all of them are illegal.
The PMC officials are shirking responsibilities and are passing the buck by saying that it is the responsibility of various ward officers to ensure that illegal hoardings don’t come up. “Actually these mandals should seek permission from ward offices. According to the procedure, the ward office then forwards their application to anti-encroachment department. We have not received any application from ward offices. Now it is responsibility of each ward office to take strict action against illegal hoardings. Every ward has been given anti-encroachment squads for this purpose,” More said.
But after the recent incident of manhandling came to light, PMC officials are reluctant to take any action. “Dahihandi festival is a sensitive religious issue so we have decided to not take any action till the end of the festival. Two days ago party workers threatened our officials. We will remove the hoardings after the festival,” a senior PMC official said on condition of anonymity. Subhash Jagtap, NCP leader in the PMC said, “If officials are threatened by party workers then they can take strict action under the BPMC act. They can register police case against mandals violating hoarding norms.”