Free Press Journal

Mumbai: Lalbaugcha Raja under charity panel’s scanner for exorbitant gifts, donations


Photo by BL SONI

Mumbai: The famous Ganpati mandal ‘king of Lalbaug’ every year receives crores of rupees in the form of jewellery and cash as donations from devotees who come in large numbers to worship during the annual 11 days Ganesh festival. ‘ A former office bearer of the mandal Mahesh Vengurlekar alleged the misuse of donation by the mandal members and demanded a probe against them.

The charity commissioner has instructed officers to keep a close watch on all collections earned by the mandal. Three officials of the charity commission will supervise the daily counting of the cash received in a hundi (collection box) and similarly will monitor the auction of gold and silver offerings. The inspectors will check the opening of the hundis and the counting process and ensure that the cash amount is deposited into the mandal’s bank account immediately. A similar procedure would be adopted for the hundis that contain gold and silver offerings.

Also, the mandal has been instructed to furnish a book of accounts for the season within 10 days of the close of the festival. Ganeshotsav ends on September 5, So the deadline is likely September 15.

Vengurlekar while speaking to Free Press Journal said, “The committee is headed by Sudhir Salvi and he is managing the post from last 16 years. Therefore, undisclosed assets and properties of Salvi along with other committee members should be probed under the enforcement directorate (ED).”

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He further claimed that he complained to the Maharashtra Governor regarding the scam at the mandal and in return, the matter was directed to the law department wherein the law officials instructed charity commissioner to conduct a probe and provide a report on the same. Last year, on August 29 the Worli office of the charity commissioner asked him (Vengurlekar) to file a written complaint and initiate an inquiry. Meanwhile, he also demanded the immediate removal of Salvi from the post. On the contrary, the committee member of the mandal denied the allegations made against them and said, “Every year in front of entire media the donations received are disclosed. Nothing is kept secret. Therefore, no chance of cheating is possible.”