With hours to go before Lord Ganpati embarks on his journey out of the city, his devotees are dreading their last ride together with Bappa. The unexpected rains this week that brought festivities to a halt on Monday have left behind ugly gashes on the roads -- potholes that have exposed the BMC’s shoddy repair work and could make Bappa’s departure a bumpy and an accident-prone one.
The festival this year has been marred by mishaps and unsavoury incidents. On September 10, over 55 devotees who ventured into the waters for immersion were left writhing in pain in hospitals, with stingray bites on their feet and legs. Later during the festival, thefts and rowdy volunteers at the iconic Lalbaugcha Raja mandap irked devotees. And in a final blow to the celebratory air, the unexpected rains have left gaping dents on the roads, inspiring dread among mandal members as they prepare to give their beloved lord a final send off.
The BMC, meanwhile, seems to have lost itself in the Ganpati revelries. Mandals claim that they have overlooked the need to give the pothole-friendly roads a final fix in the countdown to immersion proceedings.
Last ditch efforts
Mandals in the city claim they are ill at ease about the final procession, as the recent rains have caused fresh potholes to emerge on the roads that they have chosen towards the immersion spots. The Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvay Samiti (BSGSS) is trying to coordinate with the BMC and other road maintenance agencies, in a desperate last-minute attempt to fix the potholes before immersion, but say that chances of concrete results are bleak. About 1,544 potholes have been reported by citizens, excluding the fresh crop of them that dot the streets in the wake of this week’s rains.
BSGSS president Naresh Dahibavkar said, “We are continuously following up with the administration about preparations made to rule out problems that may crop up during immersion. But we are not happy with the work done on the roads, as last week’s rainfall has yet again exposed the shoddy work that was done on the roads. The potholes have grown in number due to heavy rains in the past week. The administration had promised to fill them up before immersion, which seems impossible now.”
‘No problems at all’
Authorities, meanwhile, are in denial. SVR Srinivas, additional municipal commissioner who is in-charge of roads, said, “There are no problems with respect to the road, and 95 per cent of the work is complete. There should not be any problems during immersion. On Tuesday, I personally inspected the roads and I was happy with the work.”
Asked to respond to the Samiti’s complaints about the shoddy work done, he said, “I am not here to please anyone. I have repaired the immersion route, and hence I am sure there will be no problems.”
Dilip Kawathkar, joint project director, MMRDA, said, “We have taken all the necessary precautions and from time to time we are doing all the resurfacing and repair work of the roads, hence the immersions will not be affected.”
4.42 am Low tide 0.76 metres
11.15 am High tide 4.45 metres
5.26 pm Low tide 0.77 metres
11.45 pm High tide 4.36 metres
5.30 am Low tide 0.69 metres
11.55 am High tide 4.57 metres
6.06 pm Low tide 0.54 metres
There are Ganpati mandals in almost all every nook and corner of the city, and very little repair work has been done in these areas. If the administration carries out the repair of roads falling only on the immersion route, then what about the small mandals that are placed in the interiors and need to take pothole-ridden roads to reach the immersion route?
-- Akshay Rane, member of Kamgar Nagar Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal
The promises seem to be futile as there are potholes everywhere. The uneven road surfaces are not repaired, and this might affect tall idols. We hope that the civic body will do something, but nothing seems to be happening.
-- Swapnil Parab, secretary of Lalbaug Sarvajanik Utsav Mandal (Ganesh Galli)
Ready for departure
In preparation for the hectic immersion proceedings, the number of floating platforms will be increased from two to four at important immersion sites. The number of boats will be increased from four to six. A team of four doctors, a cardiac ambulance and a regular ambulance will be present at immersion sites, apart from BMC doctors. The BMC will also be installing extra floodlights at immersion points and security will be beefed up. The civic body has also warned visitors and devotees not to consume alcohol before entering the beaches. About 240 lifeguards and 41 motorboats will be places across different immersion spots.
Stingrays won’t strike again: Experts
Experts have assuaged the concerns of devotees, assuring them that they need not worry about stingray attacks. On Tuesday, V D Deshmukh, principal scientist of the Centre for Marine Fisheries Institute confirmed that the beaches no longer pose any kind of threat to devotees. He said, “There is minimal, almost zero chance of jelly fish or stingray attacking anybody, but just to be more safe we will be fishing tomorrow at Girgaum Chowpatty at 7 am inspect it till noon. If fish are noticed, we will be fishing them out. The weather is also stable.”
Chances of heavy rainfall
With the fisheries department attributing the shocking stingray attack to climactic changes, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has confirmed that there are no signs of irregular climate, which will continue as it has been over the past week, but with heavy to very heavy rainfall. IMD Director V K Rajeev, said, “There are chances of heavy to very heavy rainfall over the next 60 hours, and the weather will be humid during the day.”