Financial constraints and strict guidelines have forced Ganapati mandals in the Airoli and Digha areas of Navi Mumbai to put the celebration on hold this year. This was decided after two rounds of meeting with all mandals in the area. Instead of Ganapati celebration, they will now undertake social work such as distributing sanitizers and creating awareness about the novel coronavirus.
About a week ago, 65 Ganapati mandals, both old and new, in the Digha and Airoli wards of Navi Mumbai had decided to put the celebrations on hold. They then held two meetings where members of all the Ganapati mandals as well as representatives of political parties were present. They discussed security measures laid down by the state government as well as financial constraints and finally decided to put the celebrations on hold for this year.
Suresh Bhilare, convener of the Digha-Airoli Samanway Samiti (DASS) said that celebrating the festival in the present scenario will send out the wrong message to residents. “Apart from safety, it is also our responsibility to look at the situation practically and take a decision,” said Bhilare.
For many mandals, financial issues have played spoilsport. "During a pandemic, seeking donations cannot be justified and without donation, arranging the 10-day festival will not be easy,” said Bhilare.
In addition, funds of many Ganapati mandals remain locked in PMC bank after withdrawal limits were capped by the RBI.
“Around 25 to 30 Ganapati mandals’ fixed and other deposits in PMC bank were locked in after withdrawal limit was capped to a maximum of Rs 1 lakh,” claimed Bhilare. He added that at least Rs 8 to 10 lakh is required to hold the 10-day festival.
Not only funds, the safety guidelines laid down by the state government for holding the festival too have discouraged many Ganapati mandals. “Once the festival starts, people will come to puja pandals. Maintaining social distancing will be a challenge and we do not want to play with the lives of common people,” said Bhilare.
Now, there is an effort to convince mandals in other parts of the city to press pause on the festivities. “We are constantly in touch with the Ghansoli and Koparkhairane mandals including Nerul and a decision will be taken soon by them,” concluded Bhilare.