Ganesh Chaturthi 2018: 52-year-old Vakola Ganpati mandal to fall silent this year
Local ward officer denies permission for celebrations saying their pandal would occupy a large portion of the adjacent road
With the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) trying its best to ensure that the Bombay High Court's directives regarding the city's Ganeshotsav celebrations are strictly followed, a Ganpati mandal in Vakola has been forced to give up its 52-year-old puja. Citing that the pandal was encroaching upon the adjacent road, the civic body's H-east ward officer denied permission for the celebrations this year. Their plea to conduct the puja at a nearby school has also been rejected.
One of the oldest mandals in the northern part of the city, Vakola Bridge Sarvajanik Ganesh Utsav Mandal, had applied to BMC for permission online. A member of the mandal, Sanjay Joshi, who was handling the process, said, "We met Assistant Municipal Commissioner of H-East ward, Alka Sasane, who gave us a patient hearing. Citing the high court order, she said any mandal that occupied road space would not be given permission. Hence, ours was rejected."
Members of the Vakola Bridge Sarvajanik Ganesh Utsav Mandal seen discussing the issue
He further said, "We had given two suggestions – if we were allowed to conduct the puja at the same venue, then we would not encroach upon the road and we be allowed to celebrate the festival at a nearby school, which is closed for Ganesh Chaturthi. However, both were rejected." Meanwhile, requesting anonymity, another member of the mandal said the ward officer was rude and she didn't give them a patient hearing. When contacted, Sasane refused to speak on the issue and asked to call back later.
BMC's strict measures
Following the high court's order to take strict action against mandals encroaching on roads and footpaths, the BMC rejected close to 281 permissions. Initially, the civic body had rejected most of the 3,000-4,000 applications that had been sent to them, but after a number of meetings on the issue, they granted permission to those who agreed to reduce the size of the pandals.
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