Cuttack, Aug. 11: Cops have made police permission mandatory for installing Ganesh idols at public places in the city, ahead of Ganesh Chaturthi.
"Those planning to install idols will have to obtain prior permission. The police will take stringent action if any person or organisation is found violating this norm," Cuttack deputy commissioner of police Akhileswar Singh told The Telegraph today.
"The application with details of installation and immersion route of the idol along with permission from fire agencies should be submitted for approval seven days before Ganesh Chaturthi (August 25)," Singh said.
"Forcible collection of chanda or donations will also be considered as severe offence," he added.
There has been a rise in the number of Ganesh pandals as several youngsters and youth clubs have celebrating it in recent years. The number has reportedly gone up from about 700 in 2013 to more than 1,300 in 2016.
In Bhubaneswar, prior permission from the police is mandatory. However, there have been instances of installing Ganesh idols without police permission at places where they create traffic obstruction.
The cops have decided to provide the licence required for setting up these idols through a single window system to make things easier for applicants.
The applicants will no longer have to come all the way to the DCP's office to get the permission. They can now apply and receive the licence from their respective police stations. The application forms are available at all police stations. These forms will be received and processed at the police stations and sent to the DCP's office for approval.
"For the licence, the organisers will have to give an undertaking that they will not immerse any idol in the Mahanadi or Kathajodi rivers, but only in the temporary ponds that will be created for the purpose," said assistant commissioner of police Asim Mishra.
The organisers are expected to specify the nearest temporary pond while giving details of the immersion route for their idol.
"We will set up temporary ponds at seven locations this year - four on the banks of Mahanadi and three on banks of Kathajodi -to prevent river water pollution," Mishra added.
Seven locations where temporary ponds will be created are Nehrupalli, Dasaghata, Kartikeswargada ghat, Bhuasuni, Devigada, Khannagar and Ghatakhala.
"This year, we have decided to conduct the immersion ceremony in four phases on August 27, September 3, 10 and 17 (all Sundays)," Mishra said.
The police have been conducting phased immersion of Ganesh idols on Sundays and public holidays since 2015 following directions of Orissa High Court.
The issue of immersion of Ganesh idols had reached the high court after it was alleged through a PIL that there was no specific date or day for immersion of idols and the processions go on for days together, causing traffic congestion and problems for residents.
Cuttack Mahanagar Shanti Commitee secretary Bhikari Das said: "We will ensure that the guidelines are followed by organisers across the city"
"However, we are concerned about the poor road conditions due to the ongoing sanitation project. If things don't improve, problems are likely during the immersion ceremony," Das said.