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Plea to get mandal vehicles inspected falls on deaf ears

Only 24 of 4,000 Ganesh mandals in Pune heed traffic police request to get trucks transporting idols on immersion day checked by RTO for technical fitness

Commuting on the city roads on the immersion day of Ganesh festival can be quite a toil. And to top it, if one of the heavy vehicles, designated to carry the Lord's idol, decides to go inert right in the middle of the road, the situation can be nothing less than a nightmare.


Chugging along: A Ganapati immersion procession in progress near
the Alka Talkies junction on Sunday. Ensuring smooth mobility of the
mandal vehicle with all the accompanying paraphernalia is a tough
task for the traffic police. pic/Krunal Gosavi


With precisely this situation in mind, the traffic police had requested the Regional Transport Office (RTO) to conduct a technical check of trucks slated to carry the elephant god before the immersion day.
MiD DAY has now learnt that only 24 of the 4,000 Ganapati mandals in the city actually bothered to get their vehicles checked.

One of the 24 mandals was the Kesariwada Ganpati Mandal, which owns the iconic Dagdushet Halwai Ganpati.
The purpose of the test was more precautionary in nature, in order to detect trucks susceptible to breakdowns. According to RTO officials, the checking was to be done at the RTO's Alandi Road office where motor vehicle inspectors would check each truck's documents, and inspect mechanical particulars for road worthiness. They would then recommend repairs based on the detections and remain in touch with the owners or operators until the problem is solved.

The details of suspected trucks would also be forwarded to the traffic police who would then be prepared for any contingency. An official said the weight of a truck increased manifold when bedecked with grand decorations and fancy lightings. "The average weight of a truck is six to seven tonnes but increases at least two tonnes after decorations. The weight doesn't matter since several heavy trucks ply on roads. The problem is that other vehicles also can't pass from the sides of the trucks because the decorations stick out taking up space. You also need to mind the people dancing around the trucks," said another official.

Officials said the authority had also arranged special appointments with RTO inspectors from September 2 to September 11 for mandals who wished to get their vehicles checked. "A total of 20 RTO inspectors were designated for duty and their numbers were published in a public information notice for mandals. The officer could also personally visit the mandals for inspection if requested. The response was, however, utterly disappointing," said another official requesting anonymity.

Officials said they personally visited areas such as Vimanagar, Yerawada and villages like Warla, Nira and Jejuri.
Ajit Shinde, deputy regional transport officer, said that two designated RTO officers were sitting idle at Alandi Rd on September 10 and 11, which was a Saturday and Sunday. "They were working on a weekend which then turned out to be an utter waste of time," said Shinde. Another official said that the checking was free of cost, as it was for the festival. "The RTO usually charges a certain amount for clearing vehicles. A special cell was immediately formed after receiving request by the traffic police," he said.

Cases registered
A Total of 1,004 cases against people under various sections of the IPC and Bombay Police act were registered. A verbal spat took place between workers of two mandals and the police after the latter asked them to honour the 12 am deadline for loudspeakers. The workers of Janardan Pavale Sangh and Durjansingh Paga Ganesh Seva Mandal allegedly abused the police on bandobast duty. Cases were registered against them and the president of one of the mandals. About 48 cases were registered against Ganapati mandals and their members in various police stations in the city for violating the noise pollution norm during the immersion procession. As per the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) rules, there is ban on playing music after 12 am, but several mandals were seen playing Dolby sound systems and dhol and tashas.
Drownings
Two people drowned in the Pavana and Mula rivers during the immersion ceremony at Walhekarwadi and Mhalunge, while the fire brigade managed to rescue seven other people on Sunday. Vinod Harish Sonar (24) from Akurdi was carried away by a strong current of the Pavana river when he had gone to Walhekarwadi to immerse a Ganesh idol. Vinod, originally a resident of Nepal, has a month-old daughter. Another victim, Hanumant Ansarreddy (22), drowned while immersing an idol at Mhalunge in Mulshi taluka on Sunday. Ansareddy, hailing from Latur, was employed in a hotel at Mhalunge.

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