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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Safety ring for holy dip eludes devotees

The death of 17 people during Chhath last week could hardly be an eye-opener for the administration.

With hundreds of people expecting to take a dip in the Ganga on Wednesday to mark Kartik Purnima, the district administration initially proposed a safety net for the devotees to avert any stampede-like situation. But it reached the civic body “too late”.

Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC), according to sources, rejected the proposal of district magistrate (DM) Sanjay Kumar Singh to barricade the ghats as a safety measure. He had sent the request to the civic authorities on Saturday. The PMC on Monday made it clear that it was not in a position to put up barricades along the Ganga in such a short notice.

Devotees usually start taking the holy dip on the occasion of Kartik Purnima from four in the morning. Like yesteryears, they would have to be cautious while taking plunge.

Singh, the DM, said: “Like previous years, there would be no safety barricades at the ghats in Patna during this year’s Kartik Purnima. However, we are putting up barricades at the entry and exit points of all roads leading to the ghats. Moreover, several teams of National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) would be patrolling the ghats.”

The PMC has started cleaning major ghats in the state capital ahead of the Kartik Purnima festivities. “The executive officers of all the circles have been asked to clean all major ghats, where devotees would take the holy bath. Few of the ghats, where cleaning works are going on at present include Digha, Gai, Kali and Khajekalan. The ghats would be spick and span by Tuesday,” said a senior PMC official.

Devotees, meanwhile, are ready for the holy dip. “Barricades at the ghats would have been safer, but I am satisfied that at least the NDRF personnel would be patrolling the ghats. I would be taking the Kartik Purnima bath at Digha Ghat,” said Vimla Devi, a resident of Rajiv Nagar. The district magistrate said there would be proper lighting and loudspeaker arrangements at the ghats. Adequate police personnel would be deployed. He also urged people not to pay heed to any rumour.

On Wednesday, plying of private boats in the Ganga have been banned. Patrol vessels with expert divers would be pressed into service. Separate control rooms have been set up at the DM’s office (0612-2219810/234) and at the police headquarters (0612-2201977/78).