More than 10,000 Ganesh mandals in the city have refused to pay BMC the deposit for setting up platforms for the idols. The mandals committee’s argument is, many communities celebrate their festivals in the streets, but the BMC does not charge them.

The BMC too has agreed with the mandal committee, saying a deposit of Rs 2,000 need not be paid, provided the mandal owners agree to repair the roads damaged by the platforms.

Naresh Dahibavkar, president, Ganesh Mandals Coordinating Committee, said most mandals hire private contractors to set up and decorate the platforms. Upon Ganesh festival’s conclusion, these contractors repair the roads, for which they anyway charge the mandal owners.

Dahibavkar said, “Many communities celebrate their festival by setting up stages at public places. Why should only Ganesh mandals be made to pay deposit money? Last year, the BMC collected around Rs 80 lakh as deposit from our mandals, even when our contractors repaired the roads immediately after the festival concluded.”

He said there should be a uniform policy for all communities. “Why can’t the BMC ask other communities to pay a deposit? We have assured the BMC that roads will restored after the festival and we will not go back on our word.”

Former corporator and Nationalist Congress Party leader Salim Chavan gave a different take to the issue. He agreed that roads are damaged due to platforms created for religious discourses, but added, “Only a small portion of the road is damaged, which is restored quickly. However, mandals should understand that Ganesh festival lasts 10 days, and hence, the deposit.”

An official from the BMC’s Road Department confirmed the corporation will not take deposit from Ganesh mandals. “We want to avoid a religious angle to the deposit scheme. Also, we have mandal committee’s guarantee on road restoration. We will wait and see if they keep their words.”

Source: Mumbai Mirror