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HC warns of contempt against those setting up pandals without permit


Mumbai: The Bombay High Court today said it would issue contempt notices to all those political parties, trusts and organisations which set up pandals during ‘Dahi Handi’ and Ganesh Chaturthi festivals without securing permission and flouted noise pollution rules.

“Looking at the personalities involved, there will be grave difficulties for the civic body to take action which is why the high court will have to step in. They (political parties) have taken law in their own hands. The law of the land says that permission has to be taken before erecting pandals and noise pollution rules should not be flouted. Now they all will face contempt action,” the high court said.

A division bench of Justices A S Oka and V L Achliya was hearing a bunch of public interest litigations on the issue of illegal pandals being set up across the state during Dahi Handi and Ganesh Chaturthi festivals and noise pollution rules being breached and inaction by the authorities.

The bench was informed by senior advocate Sanjeev Gorwadkar, appearing for one of the petitioners Mahesh Bedekar, that during Dahi Handi festival several pandals had flouted noise pollution rules but no action was taken against them by the concerned civic body.

According to readings recorded by Awaaz Foundation, the decibel level at several pandals set up by political parties like Shiv Sena (Shivaji Park), Congress (Worli) and MNS (Dadar and Thane) was way above the prescribed level.

“We are taking a serious view of the fact that civic body officers are not taking action against such pandals. We are going to direct the concerned corporation to give us a list of the names of all those pandals that have been erected without permission. We will initiate contempt proceedings against them. Apart from the pandals, the officers who failed to take action will also face contempt,” the court said.

In another petition filed against erection of a Ganesh pandal on Thane-Belapur road, the court asked the trust to submit an undertaking that it will not obstruct traffic and abide by noise pollution rules.

 “Bring a cheque of Rs one lakh tomorrow along with the undertaking. If after the ten-day Ganesh festival we find that you (trust) did not abide by your undertaking, then the cheque amount will be penalty. A signal needs to be sent loud and clear now. If not this year, then at least next year all such illegal pandals will not come up,” the court said.

The court also sought to know if a committee of revenue officers from all corporations has been set up as directed by it earlier to conduct inspection of all those places where pandals are coming up and if they have taken permission or not. The court has posted all the petitions for further hearing tomorrow.

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