Pandals leave traffic at the lord's mercy
A visit by MiD DAY to a few crucial street corners reveals the brazenness of Ganesh mandals in defying rules, creating problems for motorists and pedestrians during the festival
The resonant festivities associated with Ganeshotsav often gloss over the ferment they bring alongside. The already muddled traffic situation in the city goes completely haywire. The crux of the problem, as MiD DAY discovered, is the utter disregard for the norms laid down by Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and police among Ganesh mandals, who have like every other year instated pandals occupying more than half of the road width. Consequences include inconvenience to motorists and pedestrians, and damage to road alignment owing to digging.The civic agency and police officials seem helpless in taking preventive action against these mandals. And the penalties or punishment meted out under relevant sections of Bombay Police Act are not sufficient enough to deter violators. With six days to the deadline, only 13 mandals have bothered to take permission from PMC so far this year. Our team visited a few locations like Laxmi road, Tilak road and Sadashiv Peth area to lay bare how blatantly the mandals have transgressed PMC and traffic regulations.
Chhatrapati Rajaram Mandal, Sadashiv Peth
MiD DAY observes: The pandal embellishment has completely covered the road and vehicles, pedestrians have to pass under the marquee. The view of drivers is blocked, which may lead to accidents near the junction. Also, the ornamentation material and bamboos lying on the road are resulting in traffic chaos.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic)
“We have been issuing no-objection certificates for the mandals till last year. However, this year we have made this NOC optional for mandals who had got it last year. This move was made to reduce the paperwork required to be done by the representatives of thousands of mandals in and around the city. If any mandal is seen flouting the norms laid down for free flow of traffic, we take action against the concerned persons. This action is taken according to relevant sections of Bombay Police Act. It comprises of filing cases in which punishment of less than six months is provisioned apart from recovering penalty, which is only a few hundred rupees.”
Chief Inspector of PMC’s anti-encroachment department
“We have specified the regulations for pandals. Our experience is that most of the mandals don’t follow the rules and create lots of trouble for traffic. Many don’t even bother to take permission from sky-sign department before putting up advertisements and banners. Mandals also take around 8 to 10 days to remove their pandals and often we have to clear the junctions on our own to avoid traffic jams. Political connections of every mandal are the real reason behind their apathy. ”
Khajina Vihir Mandal, near Tilak Road
MiD DAY observes: The pandal has choked-up around 80 per cent of the road. Vehicles coming from Tilak road can’t proceed towards Laxmi road and Sadashiv Peth.
Guruji Talim Mandal, Ganpati chowk, Laxmi Road
MiD DAY observes: The road has been dug up with bamboos and other material lying on the spot itself. This has been obstructing traffic at this very crucial junction of Laxmi road.
Lokshikshan Mitra Mandal, Laxmi Road
MiD DAY observes: This mandal has occupied half of the road breadth on this busy street. Whenever a PMPML bus arrives at the spot, it takes up the remaining space, leaving precious little room for other vehicles. Also, pedestrians are left with no option but to walk on the road towards the pandal side.
Undertaking given by mandals to PMC
>> We won’t dig roads for pandals, box-shaped arches and mandaps
>> We will erect pandals in such a way that traffic on arterial roads won’t be affected
>> We will advertise on the mandaps and arches only after taking permission from the sky-sign department of PMC
>> We will remove the pandals at our own expense within two days of the Ganesh Visarjan procession
>> The pandal will be parallel to the road and only 1/3rd of the road width
>> We will adhere to these norms and are prepared to face any action taken by the PMC if the rules are found to be violated
24 L Approximate number of registered vehicles in Pune