Pimpri police, civic body pass the buck on noise pollution from Ganesh mandals

Ganpati mandal volunteers start practising dhol tasha weeks in advance of the festival. (File)

The Pimpri-Chinchwad Police and the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation seem to be passing the buck when it comes to Ganesh mandals adding to noise pollution by practising "dhol tasha" right along prominent roads and highways.

Ahead of the Ganesh festival next month, several mandal volunteers have started their practice sessions of loudly beating traditional musical instruments. In Pimpri-Chinchwad, the Pune-Mumbai highway seems to be their favourite spot.

The sessions are held right along busy roads and during evening hours, when citizens are already hassled by traffic chaos and high level of pollution. Instead of practising on open grounds or by the riverside, the volunteers prefer busy roads.

When contacted, Pimpri-Chinchwad Police Commissioner R K Padmanabhan said they will not take action in the matter because of a High Court ruling. "The High Court has ruled in this matter…We will abide by the court order. We will not take action," he said, adding the civic body gives permission for such mandals, and it should act in the matter.

When approached for comment, PCMC executive engineer Sanjay Kulkarni said,"PCMC does not give any permission. This issue relates to noise pollution and the police should take action in the matter." He said he was not aware of any high court ruling regarding the practice session of mandal volunteers. "As far as we know, the High Court rulings have been strict about controlling noise pollution."

Civic activist Shridhar Chalkha said the PCMC and police should clarify whether they support noise pollution or are against it. "These two authorities can’t shun their responsibilities," he said.

Advocate Sachin Godambe said there is no High Court ruling that says noise from any musical instrument can cross dangerous limits. "The Ganesh mandal volunteers use traditional musical instruments and these are played in residential areas. The decibel level should not cross 40 to 50 mark. However, the mandal volunteers ensure their decibels cross the 100 mark, which is against rules," he said.

Meanwhile, the Pimpri-Chinchwad police said they will take action against any Ganesh mandal that forcibly seeks "vargani" or donation from citizens. "We will book them under extortion charge," said Padmanabhan.