Pune devotees find answer to noise pollution curbs



Mumbai: Strange as it may sound, but some Ganeshotsav organisers in Pune follow a bizarre practice during immersions to by-pass noise pollution norms - abandoning the idols on the roadside after the noise ban becomes effective at midnight.

A home department official said this revelation was made in a high-level meeting that Home Minister RR Patil called Tuesday with police officials of Pune to review arrangements of the 11-day Ganeshotsav, starting all over Maharashtra Sep 19.

Officials informed the minister that despite relaxation of noise pollution norms on the specific days of immersion ('visarjan') of Lord Ganesh idols, some of the organisers chose to skirt it in a unique way.

"At midnight, when the relaxation ends and noise pollution ban becomes effective, the organisers stop the procession and simply leave the Lord Ganesh idol on the roadside. They go home, take bath and breakfast and return late next morning to complete the immersion ceremonies. Until then, it becomes the duty of the local police to ensure the safety and security for these abandoned idols," an official, preferring anonymity, said.

This year, in view of the sensitive situation in Pune following the recent serial blasts, Patil requested the organisers and police to ensure that such things did not happen and all immersions were carried out in one go instead of phases.

"All the organisers shall be requested to complete the immersion ceremonies on the same day and not extend it to two-three days to bypass noise pollutions norms, in view of the security concerns," the official said.

In order to ensure that the noise pollution restrictions were not flouted, the state government plans to authorise district collectors to decide the days on which relaxation could be granted.

Owing to local customs and traditions, various parts of Maharashtra have their festivities on dates which do not always coincide with each other.

The state government's pollution control authorities release fixed dates for noise pollution relaxation but as all regions do not celebrate the festivities on the days, the relaxation is of no use in some parts.

If the organisers carry out celebrations on any other days as applicable locally, they are immediately hauled up by police for violating noise pollution norms, the official said.

The home department will await the nod of the pollution department before authorising district collectors to decide on the dates of relaxation of noise pollution norms as per the local requirements.

Patil also reviewed the security arrangements for Maharashtra's biggest festival.

"People must remain alert in view of the difficult times, though there are no specific alerts from either the state or central agencies during Ganeshotsav," Patil said.

IANS