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Lalbaugcha Raja: Where Mechanised Cleaning is Impossible

The rage and passion of Indians is more explicit when it comes to festivities. The famous Ganesh Chaturthi or internationally known elephant-head God festival, celebrated with much fanfare, especially in Maharashtra, expounds the depth of dedication that people can engage in during the 11-day celebration. Equally dedicated are the service providers who are engaged in cleaning the festival areas. Mumbai-based Sanjay Maintenance Services shares the challenges of keeping clean the famous Lalbaugcha Raja location in Mumbai where 1.5 million people visit every day.

[box type=”shadow” ]“When we do not have space even to hold a tall brush straight, where is the chance for mechanised cleaning?”[/box]

LalbaugOtherwise a busy market place, Lalbaug adorns a festive look to welcome ‘God’ Ganpati, whose idol is installed in a well decorated make-shift Pandal in the center of the street. This is one of those places where people, including celebrities and dignitaries, flock to get a glimpse of the Lalbaugcha Raja. More than 1.5 million people every day wait in queues for even 10 hours for a Mukh Darshan or Pooja of the Navsacha Ganpati (which means the “one who fulfills all wishes”).

The devotees enter this area from three main gates. During the festive time, the fish market is shut down and barricades are put up to guide the crowd. “The extent of littering is so high that constant cleaning is required right from the entry point up to the foot of the idol,” said Prashant Ghodke, Senior Manager, Sanjay Maintenance Services Pvt. Ltd, who has been supervising the cleaning at Lalbaug for the last 11 years.

The cleaning work at Lalbaug begins much prior to the festival. “We have a manager, four supervisors and 40 workers with four lady staff working round the clock at the site. The team is elated and so happy in cleaning and maintaining the place that they lose count of the days and hours spent in doing seva (service),” adds Prashant.

The work gets started four days prior to the coconut breaking ceremony performed before installing the Ganpati idol. The work is divided into two 12-hour shifts and the team takes charge at Garam Khada, Mandap & stage area, BMC Fish Market, Hanuman Temple Lane, Chiwda Galli, three main gates and periphery. All the reception and help desks, medical assistance rooms and toilets are managed by SMS.

During the festival, each of the team members take the designated area and are trained to handle their job efficiently. “Cleaning at Lalbaug is a different quotient all together. Even though as professionals we practice mechanized cleaning, when it comes to Lalbaug, we have no choice but to go manual. Leave alone brooms, it is a challenge to even use simple tools for cleaning. It is perfect coordination, strict adherence to processes, vigilant cleaning, alertness and above all dedication which has enabled the team to successfully maintain a litter-free surrounding,” explained Sanjay Khanvilkar, Managing Director.

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