Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Stampede on First Day of Kumbh Mela/Pushkaralu Claims 27 Lives - Who is to be Blamed?

People of Andhra Pradesh were excitingly waiting for the kickstart of Pushkaralu (The Godavari Kumbh Mela) at Rajahmundry in the early hours of the auspicious time on 14th July 2015.

It is a big celebration every 12 years, and especially this year's Godavari Pushkaralu is termed as the "Maha Pushkaralu" that occurs once in every 144 years.

That is, only one person among three generations can witness and take part in this great event.

Those who take a dip in the holy waters of Godavari during Pushkaralu is considered to be the luckiest person who directly attains moksha besides elevating the souls of all his ancestors.

But, this sad news of stampede at Pushkar ghat in Rajahmundry is a great blow to all of us.

Devotees who have come with a desire to take the holy dip in the Godavari to attain eternal bliss and moksha had to return with the dead bodies of their family members. What more can be worst than this blow?

Now, who is to be blamed for all this?

  • Do you think God is to be blamed?
  • Or is it the fault of the person dying?
  • Or is it the people around the victim?
  • Do you say CM is to be blamed for taking his dip or inaugurating it?
No, none of them can be blamed.

Then who is Responsible? 

I say the administration is responsible. 

The Police standing mute spectators are to be blamed.

The people not maintaining patience and control over themselves are also to be blamed.

  • The administration who have planned for the arrangements should have provided for some control mechanism in case of overcrowding.
  • They should not have shut down the gates for pilgrims to facilitate CM's visit and dip. They could have as well allowed them in small batches to reach the ghat and take their dips. It should not be a problem for CM's protection and security.
  • The police should have kept their attention on the moving people and should have facilitated safe and peaceful movement, especially taking care of women, children, and weaker people.

Crowd Management for Kumbh Mela

Each year, you come across incidents of stampede and loss of lives. Even then, you are not learning the mechanism of crowd control. It shows carelessness of the administrations as well as lack of self-control among people.

People can't wait till their turn patiently. They want to do it immediately and think others are not interested and so not doing it fast. 

At cinema theatres, you see people climbing overheads to reach the counter to purchase tickets as if you are simply standing there and not interested in moving forward.

At temples, people are in the queue. But, you think they are not going forward and you may be trying to push them forward, and at times, you may even climb over their heads to reach forward.

You can't wait for some time as the queue is moving slowly. Why all this?

What to Do

  • The administration should learn from past experiences by studying the cases of similar incidents and collect knowledge regarding what methods can be applied to such situations of crowd management
  • Arrangements should not be centered around facilitating VIP visits only. Elaborate well-planned measures should be employed to tackle unexpected burst of crowds. The attitude of buttering to VIPs should be discarded and they should think for the welfare of all people collectively.
  • If special treatments are to be given to VIPs, it does not mean depriving the rights of common man. So, protection to VIP can be offered, but at the same time, equal concern for the public should also be kept in mind by these organizers.
  • Coming to Police, they should always be well prepared for disaster management with adequate staff, equipment, and smart attitudes also.
  • The police should be present in small groups or batches at every point and corner of these public gatherings so as to be able to control their movements.
  • Queue systems and barricades can be erected for safe passage of people in a controlled manner.
  • Remember that crowd management does not mean stopping their movement or hindering their paths with obstructions. It means ensuring smooth flow of people without stopping them.
  • You can learn from the traffic police. Just like they control the flow of traffic on roads, you need to manage the flow of people who are moving with their feet here on the ground. 
  • The staff managing the queue can give break for a minute or two in between and then again allow the movements and again give some break and thereafter allow some, like that. 
  • The main purpose is to facilitate free movement without overcrowding at a single spot.
  • We, as public also have our own responsibilities. We need to be self-controlled and well disciplined. 
  • Think of people around you and consider their own job also as important as of yours. 
  • Always try to be generous and kind and be of some help to people around you.

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