The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Head for pandal or jungle

The charges: Shanti Lal Jain, BJP leader and former councillor, being patron of six pujas in the Burrabazar area, has encouraged the organisers to block roads and pavements while erecting pandals. He did not object to the installation of dozens of loudspeakers that will create a massive sound pollution in the congested area.

6Cotton Street, an important thoroughfare connecting BK Pal Avenue with Mahatma Gandhi Road, has been sealed. All Howrah station-bound vehicles will have to take a five-km detour down CR Avenue to reach their destination

6Banstala Street, Burtola Street and Jamnalal Bajaj Street have been blocked by the puja organisers. As the four major roads in the Burrabazar area will remain blocked for four days, traffic will come to a standstill

6Puja organisers are forcibly collecting subscriptions from traders in the area

Jainís defence: Are all the pujas on the roads illegal' Then why doesnít the administration crack down on them' We are not violating any law by erecting pandals on the road. It can only be called a relaxation of rules. There is nothing in black and white about rules regarding road-blocking. Everyone just assumes there is.

I suggest that those who are complaining about roads being blocked for the Pujas should raise their voices against the roads and pavements being encroached upon round the year.

If anybody has a problem about encroaching pandals or loud music during the festival days, I would advise them to proceed to the jungles, where they will not be disturbed.

Somebody has to make a sacrifice for the sake of the greater good. We Calcuttans are accustomed to doing so. Remember the Metro Railway days' We suffered the inconvenience. And now see how many people have benefited.

I have told the puja organisers not to collect subscription forcibly from anybody. Barring a few small incidents, there has been no complaints of forcible collection of subscriptions. In fact, I have told the traders and businessmen of the area not to hesitate to lodge a complaint with the police station in case of any such coercion.

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