The Bombay High Court on Thursday directed that a panel be cobbled up to monitor the upcoming Kala Ghoda festival. The court asked senior government officials, including the chief secretary, municipal commissioner and director general of police, to appoint senior officers from their respective departments to assist advocate Jamesh Mistry in monitoring the Kala Ghoda festival. Mistry is required to submit a report, recommending ways to deal with problems faced by residents of the area during the festival. The problems of the residents during the festival relate to parking and other civic amenities. The festival starts this weekend.
The court directed the committee to submit a report within four weeks. It, however, did not stay the art festival being organised on a yearly basis for the past 16 years.
The court was hearing a petition by local resident Berges Malu complaining about hardships, inconvenience, nuisance and safety and security risks to local residents during the festival.
The petitioner’s counsel argued that K Dubhash Marg, Maharashtra Chamber of Commerce Lane and Sai Baba Lane are barricaded and stalls are set up there blocking entry or exit points for emergency vehicles. “The petitioner is not obstructing any art festival but organisers are taking the law in their hand and they block roads causing inconvenience to public at large,” he said.
It was argued that in case fire, medical emergencies or terrorist strikes, it would be impossible for any emergency vehicle to enter the main area where the festival is conducted. There is also no control on noise levels. The petition prayed for setting up of a panel to monitor decibel levels and to ensure that the fest moves to Cross Maidan.
Government pleader DA Nalawade argued that the “tendency of people is that they support festivals but don’t want it in their backyard. The police and other establishments have visited the site of the festival and are in regular correspondence with the organisers regarding security and safety of visitors and residents”. He told the court that 400 police personnel will be deployed at the event.
The court, however, questioned the petitioner for moving the court at such a belated period. It said: “You could have come six months ago. On this ground alone we can reject interim relief to you.”
The organisers also assured that in addition to police deployment, private security guards will be posted at the venue.
Accordingly, the court refused to grant any relief to the petitioner but directed the constitution of a committee.
Carnival only for a few?
The high court was hearing a petition by a local resident who had complained of inconvenience and safety and security risks faced by residents during the festival