Vol­un­teers stop work over do­na­tion

PACI­FIED Af­ter civic chief rep­ri­manded them over tak­ing do­na­tion for im­mer­sion, vol­un­teers briefly stopped work at Vashi

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - NAVI - G Mo­hi­ud­din Jeddy ht­for­nav­i­mum­bai@hin­dus­tan­times.com

Vol­un­teers, who im­merse the idols at im­mer­sion sites, went on a flash strike on Satur­day fol­low­ing a warn­ing by mu­nic­i­pal com­mis­sioner Tukaram Mundhe against the col­lec­tion of money from the devo­tees.

The vol­un­teers were later paci­fied by se­nior po­lice in­spec­tor of Vashi po­lice sta­tion Ajayku­mar Landge, fol­low­ing which they re­sumed the immersions.

There have been com­plaints by devo­tees that they have to pay ex­or­bi­tant amounts to have their Gan­pati idols im­mersed at sev­eral ponds in the city. The max­i­mum com­plaints were from Vashi pond. “Those bring­ing small idols have to pay a min­i­mum of Rs500 to vol­un­teers and the amount in­creases with the size of the idol and also the rep­u­ta­tion of the man­dal. A well known man­dal in Vashi last year paid Rs22,000 for the im­mer­sion of its large idol,” said a res­i­dent, re­quest­ing anonymity.

On Satur­day, Mundhe vis­ited the Vashi pond dur­ing the 6th day of im­mer­sion and took the vol­un­teers to task. Mundhe said, “You will not charge a sin­gle penny from the peo­ple who come to get their idols im­mersed. You are paid Rs427 per head per day.”

“If you don’t want to work, you can leave,” he told the vol­un­teers, who are paid on a daily ba­sis by the NMMC.

When the vol­un­teers told him that they work for long hours, he said, “I ac­cept you work hard. How­ever, any de­ci­sion on rais­ing the amount given by the civic body, can be taken for next year. For now, you have to fol­low it.”

He said, “If any­one is found tak­ing money from the devo­tees, we will file crim­i­nal ac­tion against them. Do not take the money even if some­one of­fers it.”

Mundhe seized the do­na­tion box of the vol­un­teers that was be­ing used to keep the money col­lected.

Af­ter Mundhe left, the an­gry Mu­nic­i­pal com­mis­sioner Tukaram Mundhe in­spects Vashi pond, an im­mer­sion site, on Satur­day.

vol­un­teers struck work and re­fused to im­merse the idols. Vashi se­nior po­lice in­spec­tor Ajayku­mar Landge then spoke to the vol­un­teers and asked them to re­sume the im­mer­sion. The vol­un­teers then changed the NMMC T-shirts they were wear­ing and put on the Po­lice mitr T-shirts and started the immersions.

Nilesh Patil, a vol­un­teer, said: “We start work­ing from 6 am and the immersions go up to 4am the next morn­ing. We have to work hard and even risk our lives. What is wrong in ac­cept­ing what the devo­tees of­fer.”

SLAMS CIVIC STAFF OVER WASTE SEG­RE­GA­TION

Mundhe also had a go at his civic of­fi­cials when he saw unseg­re­gated garbage in the bins near the pond. He said, “There are bins here clearly marked for dry and wet garbage. Why is no care be­ing taken to seg­re­gate the garbage? Why is ev­ery­thing be­ing dumped to­gether?”

The of­fi­cials then hur­riedly ar­ranged for ad­di­tional bins. A girl wa­ters the tree Gane­sha at a house in Sea­woods on Satur­day.

BACHCHAN KU­MAR

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