Ganesh Chaturthi 2018: Ganpati becomes a traffic stopper
Not just visarjan, but with Aagman Sohala, processions have become louder and larger; expect roads to be blocked today as well
For Mumbaikars, daily commute has always been a struggle, what with the crater-like potholes and Metro work. What is adding to their troubles is a relatively new trend in the city - noisy processions to carry 'Bappa' from workshops to mandals - popularly known as Aagman Sohala.
Though these processions have always been an integral part of Ganeshotsav, set to start from September 13, it never bothered commuters much, as all of it happened peacefully in the dead of the night. But in the race to win the cut-throat competition of emerging as the best mandal - the dhol-tash has become a day affair, when the city's traffic is at its peak.
According to sources, earlier, the main purpose of bringing in the idol two to three weeks in advance was to complete the mandal's decoration. But now, it has turned into a full blown noisy event - holding up traffic for hours at peak times.
Ahead of Ganeshotsav, mandals transport idols from workshops at Lalbaug in Parel. Pics/Ashish Raje/Atul Kamble
Police said, this year the size of the processions has increased manifold, with hundreds of people dancing and playing dhols all the way. Despite the Bombay HC issuing strict guidelines last year, asking organisers not to block roads and footpaths and ensure that traffic doesn't get hampered, hardly any initiatives are being taken to follow them. Further, while there are traffic diversions for immersion processions, nothing of that sort has been worked out for Aagman Sohala.
Even though the police claim to have made arrangements for managing traffic, the situation from Parel to Byculla was worse on Saturday. The Chinchpoklicha Chintamani's procession held up traffic in the area for hours, clearly showing the cops' failure in handling the situation.
Once a Parel and Lalbaug trend, now almost the entire city follows this practice. Traffic police have issued advisories in the past asking mandals to transport the idols at night, but most don't bother. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a traffic cop from Parel said, "The processions occupy almost half of the roads, hence, we give them permission in batches, to ensure that not many of them land up in the same area at the same time."
Speaking to mid-day, Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic), Amitesh Kumar, said, "We have a list of all the processions that will be carried out, and they are mainly in Parel, Lalbaug and Chinchpokli areas. We've made all the required arrangements. Instructions have been issued and arrangements have been made for managing traffic this weekend. While the big mandals inform us and take prior permissions, some of the smaller ones just take out impromptu processions. This sometimes creates problems, but then it's managed by the cops of that particular area."
Vasudev Sawant and Sunil Sadadekar
Sunil Sadadekar, Chairman of Samarth Ganeshotsav Mandal, Andheri, said, "We have been taking out such processions over the last three years, but it's usually done near our building's entrance and not from the workshop. No hindrance is caused to traffic movement."
Vasudev Sawant, secretary of Chinchpoklicha Chintamani Ganeshotsav mandal, one of the first to come up with the idea of Aagman Sohala, said, "We have been doing this for the last 15 years. Earlier, these processions were not a trend, but over time they have become a big hit. We do understand the traffic issues, hence we try to coordinate with the cops. Our volunteers also help them manage traffic. This time our procession will be from Bharatmata Cineman to Chintamani pandal, which is near Chinchpokli station."
Commuting gets tougher
Sharing his views about the processions holding up traffic at peak hours, Mira Road resident Vikas Singh said, "Travelling on the Western Express Highway has become a major issue due to the ongoing Metro work, and then we have to navigate through the internal roads to get to work. Such large processions hold up traffic for hours. Last weekend, when I was travelling to Andheri to meet a friend, I was stuck on the highway for more than 30 minutes. Later, I realised that it was because of a Ganpati procession."
Another 71-year-old commuter Brahmakshi N, said, "Last year, on a day before Ganesh Chaturthi, I was stuck near Pratiksha Nagar in Sion for almost two hours. Ganpati idols were being taken to mandals in huge tempos with blaring music. When I asked a traffic cop about it, he said nothing could be done because Bappa was being taken home. How can the authorities allow this?"
Tough weekend for Central Mumbai
This time Central Mumbai will be the worst-affected, as shutting down of the Lower Parel bridge has forced many mandals to take alternative Elphinstone and Mahalaxmi routes.
Owing to dismantling of the Delisle bridge, the over 40 major mandals in Parel, Lalbaug, Sewree, Chinchpokli and Lower Parel areas would have to travel an extra three kilometres, which means the already crowded Mahalaxmi and Saath Rasta areas would get all the more congested. If commuters take the Elphinstone bridge route, the one-way traffic will land in more trouble.
55db Maximum sound level allowed in residential areas
85db Level recorded in most places
115db Maximum level recorded
(As said by activist Sumaira Abdul)
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