NMMC’s no-ad dik­tat hits Ganesh man­dals

FES­TI­VAL DAMP­ENER Man­dals ask for money rang­ing from Rs 25,000 to over Rs1 lakh from de­vel­op­ers, jewellers and busi­ness­men for ad­ver­tise­ments on gates

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - NAVI - Tas­neem Kausar ht­for­nav­i­mum­bai@hin­dus­tan­times.com

The de­ci­sion by mu­nic­i­pal com­mis­sioner Tukaram Mundhe to not al­low ad­ver­tis­ing gates on pan­dals, is ex­pected to hit the or­gan­is­ers hard.

There are around 435 man­dals in the NMMC area which are be­ing given per­mis­sions through one-win­dow pol­icy. The man­dals have been in­structed to en­sure that the roads are not dug up for erect­ing man­daps. In­stead mud filled drums are to be used to sup­port the bam­boo struc­tures.

De­spite the court or­der, sev­eral Ganeshot­sav man­dals had last year dug up roads at sev­eral places to erect wel­come gates. Th­ese gates seem to be the pil­lars of the fi­nan­cial strength of the man­dals.

The man­dals ask for amounts rang­ing from Rs 25,000 to over Rs1 lakh from de­vel­op­ers, jewellers and other busi­ness­men for ad­ver­tise­ments on the gates. That the city is de­faced does not seem to mat­ter to them.

Fol­low­ing the court or­ders on the con­duct of the fes­tiv­i­ties, the NMMC and the po­lice have like last year not given per­mis­sion to the man­dals to erect their pan­dals on the roads. Most man­dals hence shifted to gar­dens or other open spa­ces. For the first time, there were no ma­jor traf­fic is­sues in the city due to Ganeshot­sav fes­tiv­i­ties last year.

How­ever, there was no dearth of the gates on the roads de­spite the in­struc­tions by the court that the roads should not be dug up. Most sar­va­janik man­dals had erected the gates.

NMMC is now giv­ing per­mis­sion to the man­dals to erect 1 or 2 gates. How­ever, it has dis­al­lowed com­mer­cial ad­ver­tis­ing on it.

Big man­dals usu­ally erect 10 to 15 gates. There are over 500 gates that are erected in the city.

The num­ber of gates have been in­creas­ing over the years be­cause of fi­nan­cial gains they bring to the man­dals. A num­ber of of­fice­bear­ers Artistes beat dhols to wel­come in a Ganesh idol at Vashi.

of sev­eral man­dals are af­fil­i­ated to po­lit­i­cal par­ties. They of­ten use their clout to get ad­ver­tise­ments for the man­dals. In other cases, do­na­tions are taken from politi­cians and hence gates are put up of their busi­nesses.

There have been some in­stances in the past of gates caus­ing hur­dles when the idols were brought to the pan­dals.

A pres­i­dent of a lead­ing man­dal in Vashi said, “The fes­tiv­i­ties have been car­ried on for years. We have even shifted to dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions. There is no rule that says that the gates can­not be erected. This rev­enue is im­por­tant for the man­dals to or­ga­nize the fes­tiv­i­ties.”

He added, “NMMC needs to get a res­o­lu­tion passed in the gen­eral body to de­cide that there can be only 1 or 2 gates that they should not have com­mer­cial ad­ver­tis­ing. Where is the pro­posal?”

The pres­i­dent said, “We will go to the court if such ar­bi­trary ac­tion is taken. We are ready to pay as per com­mer­cial rates if the civic body wants to charge for the gates, but it can­not deny us the right to erect them. We have even given an un­der­tak­ing that we will not dam­age the roads.”

MLA Manda Mha­tre, “I did speak to the mu­nic­i­pal com­mis­sioner on al­low­ing com­mer­cial gates for the man­dals to help them fi­nance their fes­tiv­ity. How­ever, he is not ready to grant per­mis­sion.”

BACHCHAN KUMAR

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