The palkhis (palanquins) of revered saints, Sant Tukaram Maharaj and Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj will roll out on June 10 and 11, respectively, in a procession from Dehu and Alandi, in that order. They will converge in Pune on their way to the pilgrim town of Pandharpur as part of the annual tradition.
The police as well as the district administration are taking various measures to see that the procession takes place smoothly.
At Dehu, the local municipal council has removed several encroachments, including big hoardings, along the route. “We have removed over 50 hoardings in the town and more will be cleared in the drive over the next two days. We will also clear encroachments to free pavements to facilitate smooth pathways for lakhs of devotees set to arrive in the coming two days,” said a senior Dehu Municipal Council official.
Commenting on this action, Sanjay More, trustee, Tukaram Maharaj Temple Trust, said, “The council should not allow hoardings in and around the temple throughout the year. They only remove these at palkhi time. But it does not serve the purpose as hoardings can collapse on any day and pose a risk to the lives of people. Such impromptu drives are just short-term measures.”
A large number of devotees from across the state start reaching Dehu and Alandi three or four days prior to the procession leaving.
The latest restriction on heavy vehicles will put an additional burden on the Pune-Ahmednagar highway and the Chakan-Shikrapur industrial road for the next few days.
Sanjay Shinde, joint commissioner of Pimpri Chinchwad police, told TOI, “A significant number of industrial vehicles plying through Alandi daily. During the palkhi procession, it can cause traffic congestion in the town. So, we have made these changes in vehicular movement.”
The police have also decided to set up nakabandis at vantage points in and around Alandi to maintain control on the traffic situation, he said, adding, “We will allow only vehicles with dindis (groups of devotees) into the town. The local population will get passes from the police station. We urge people to help the police by adhering to guidelines and changes in traffic management.”