Mumbaikars to pay more for Ganesh Chaturthi festivities amid plastic, thermocol ban

Mumbaikars to pay more for Ganesh Chaturthi festivities amid plastic, thermocol ban
Makers of idols and festive decorations are facing the heat since the implementation of the Maharashtra Plastic Ban

Devotees will have to shell out more for Ganesh Chaturthi festivities this year due to the rise in prices of several items following the implementation of the Maharashtra Plastic Ban.

Ganeshotsav is observed in second and third weeks of September, but workshops of idol makers and other festive decorations are already reeling in the aftermath of the plastic ban in the state that has been effective since June 23 this year.

According to the idol makers and decorators, the costs of idols during the festival are bound to go up this year after the state environment department put a restriction on several plastic and thermocol items this year.

“The prices of idols will surely go up as we have to find some alternatives for plastic and thermocol which will be costlier. But fortunately, the number of bookings for idols has not been affected much despite high costing because this is a matter of faith and people will bear the extra cost. They will anyhow invite Bappa to their homes,” Krunal Patil, an idol maker from Parel told ANI.

Going by the claims of the idol makers, the number of idols will not go down this year but devotees will have to spend comparatively more than previous years for their Bappa.

The Saarvajanik Ganseshotsav Mandals and devotees who bring Ganesha idols to their homes have reasons to worry because this year they are expected to spend 10-20 percent more on their idols and pandal decorations.

“We are afraid that festivities will be costlier this year. We have to observe the festival like every year as it is not only a matter of our faith or festivities but Mumbai’s Ganseshotsav is world famous and everyone enjoys it. However, we are in constant touch with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and government officials to see if we can be exempted from the plastic ban up to some extent,” said Naresh Dahibawkar, Chairman of Mumbai Ganeshotsav Mandals co-ordination committee.

Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvay Samiti, the umbrella body of the festivities in Mumbai, has provided several representations to state government and Municipal commission and is expecting a positive response from them for exemption of the Mandals from the plastic ban.

However, a relaxed plastic ban for Ganpati Mandals will not have much impact on the costs as most of the booking are either already done or soon to be done. So, it is clear that after last year’s Goods and Services Tax (GST) effect, this year plastic ban will also make Mumbaikars Bappa a bit dearer.

Earlier this month, the Bombay High Court had even declined to relax the ban on the sale of decoration items made of thermocol for use in the Ganesh Chaturthi festival.

A division bench of Justices A S Oka and Riyaz Chagla dismissed a petition filed by the Thermocol Fabricator and Decoration Association, seeking a relaxation of the ban only for this year’s festival.

The petition claimed the association’s members would suffer huge financial losses if decoration material made of thermocol is not permitted to be sold in the market. The association also submitted an undertaking stating they will themselves dispose of the material.

The state government opposed the petition and said the last day to dispose of the banned items was June 23. Despite this, the petitioner (the association) did not dispose of their material and instead kept it as it is and is now seeking relaxation, it argued.

The HC said it cannot ignore the government’s arguments and also refused to accept the association’s undertaking that it would take back the sold thermocol material and dispose them of after the festival.

On March 23, the Maharashtra government had issued a notification, imposing a ban on the manufacture, use, sale and distribution of all plastic materials like plastic bags, spoons, plates, bottles and thermocol items.

Later on June 23, the BMC had launched a drive against the use of banned items. It formed various teams to conduct raids throughout the city and fine violators.

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