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Crowd study for safe fun

The government will take lessons in crowd management while Chhath devotees perform rituals on the banks of the Ganga.

The stampede at Adalat Ghat last year and the serial blasts at Gandhi Maidan during the BJP’s Hunkar Rally last month have prompted chief minister Nitish Kumar to appoint Bihar State Disaster Management Authority (BSDMA) to study crowd management during Chhath, which began on Wednesday.

During the four-day festival, thousands of devotees throng the ghats in the city. BSDMA would conduct a detailed assessment of crowd management, hazard identification, risk assessment, medical aid and preparations at hospitals.

Assisted by the Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) and the district administration, the authority would also study the depths of the river at different ghats as well as power and safety arrangements during the arghya hours.

Conducting crowd management studies at large festive gatherings is not new hat for BSDMA. A team from the organisation conducted a similar assessment at the Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad in January to March this year. The government would use the findings of the study in future to better manage events like festivals and rallies, which attract crowds.

Asked how the study will be conducted, BSDMA vice-chairman Anil Kumar Sinha said: “We would be using satellite images and remote sensing to collect data on the depths of river and accumulation of crowd at each ghat. We have sought support from the Patna Municipal Corporation, the district administration and the divisional commissioner. They can provide us with all the data they have and initiatives they have taken to organise the festival.”

After studying the data, BSDMA would give suggestions and recommendations to the authorities to avoid any untoward incident.

On Wednesday, even as the devotees performed the rituals of Nahay Khay, preparations continued at the ghats.