Mumbai: Mandals urge state to release SOPs for Ganeshotsav soon

In the absence of any standard operating procedures (SOPs) for Ganeshotsav amidst the second wave of COVID-19, mandals and sculptors have been a confused lot. The Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvay Samiti (BSGSS), an umbrella body of sarvajanik (public) mandals, has written to the state government to frame/issue guidelines at the earliest to give them enough time to prepare.

Sculptors usually start the process of setting up their workshop and making the idols at the end of May or latest by the first week of June. Last week, they managed to acquire permission from the BMC to set up workshops. However, there was no clarity on the height of the idols and other SOPs for the festival.

"Last year, the civic body issued guidelines for Ganeshotsav very late. It caused a lot of chaos, as many idols were ready by that time. Big mandals decided to make the idol in the mandaps themselves to avoid the grand Aagman Sohla (traditional ritual to welcome the deity). The civic body and state government had capped the size of the idols -four feet for mandals and two feet for household idols. This year, no guidelines were released. Mandals are not sure whether they must follow the rules from last year or wait for fresh SoPs to be released. We have requested the state government to issue fresh guidelines as early as possible," said Naresh Dahibavkar, head of BSGSS.

There are a total of 13,000 sarvajanik mandals in the city, of which 3,070 mandals are big. This year, the 10-day long festival will begin on September 10.

"Last year, the SoP was issued very late. The issue has become more chaotic, as the officer from BMC Anand Waghralkar who coordinates with us (Ganesh mandals) retired last year and no new officer has been appointed in his place. We have no idea who is the new co-ordinator now," Dahibavkar said.

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