No one is above the law, not even those serving the gods. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) proved this when the civic body slapped the Lalbaugcha Raja trust with penalties to the tune of Rs 23.56 lakh for the damage caused to public property during the Ganeshotsav in September this year.
The corporation had issued a similar notice around two months ago, but to no avail. The reminder notice, issued around a week ago by the F-South ward (a copy of which is with MiD DAY), says that the trust had dug 953 holes on roads and footpaths for erecting the main pandal and the passages for devotees. The holes haven’t been repaired and the trust is not taking any measures to do so as well.
The Rs 23.56-lakh penalty also includes Rs 4.5 lakh that the trust was penalised for erecting temporary iron structures and a bridge on 1,800 square metre leading from Dinshaw Petit Lane in Lalbaug to GD Ambedkar Marg, towards Wadala.
Activist Mahesh Venurlekar, who obtained the requisite documents from the BMC under the RTI Act, stated that he was disturbed by the fact that a trust that runs on the public’s money was ignoring the fact that public space had been damaged due to their negligence. “No one is above the law. If some public property has been damaged, it has to be repaired by those responsible. The taxpayers should not pay for such indulgences,” he said.
Yashwant Kurade, assistant commissioner (F-South ward) confirmed that the penalty notice has been issued.
“We have issued two notices to the trust. The first notice was sent almost two months ago. A reminder was dispatched recently,” assistant engineer Jagdish Barapatre, whose signature appears on the notice, claimed.
When contacted, Sudhir Salvi, secretary of Lalbaugcha Raja Trust, said that there was a discrepancy in the official figures regarding the holes.
“There were far lesser holes dug by us and those were duly repaired. The numbers in the BMC records appear to be inflated. We had also taken all permissions before the final arrangements for the grand event,” he claimed.