The Telegraph
Monday , November 26 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pass-the-buck game over ghat safety for devotees

Patna, Nov. 25: Everyone is chanting the “safety first” mantra after last Monday’s Chhath tragedy in Adalat Ghat lane but implementing it in real terms has set off a unique passing-the-buck game.

Yesterday, the district administration sent a letter to the Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) to put up barricades at major ghats along the Ganga to avert any untoward incident on the occasion of Kartik Purnima on Wednesday, when devotees take holy dip in the river. But the civic body was reluctant to take up the job, citing devotees’ safety was the responsibility of the administration and not its.

Patna district magistrate Sanjay Kumar Singh told The Telegraph today: “Considering the safety elements involved during the Kartik Purnima festivities at various ghats, we wanted to get the barricading done to rule out the possibility of any mishap. Accordingly, the district administration sought assistance from the PMC. Apart from the ghats, we have plans to barricade all entry and exit points on roads leading to the ghats.”

The district administration did not specify the number of ghats it wanted to be barricaded but sources in the PMC claimed that it indicated the marshy ones in the Patna City circle.

A senior PMC official, who did not want to be named, said: “Everybody is trying to play safe after the Adalat Ghat lane stampede incident. Probably because of this, barricading ghats during Kartik Purnima has been proposed for the first time. The district administration wants to involve the PMC so that the entire responsibility in case of any mishap could be passed on to us,” he said.

DM Singh also confirmed that such a step was never taken on Kartik Purnima but did not elaborate much on what the district administration would do if the PMC rejected his proposal.

The PMC commissioner, Pankaj Kumar Pal, was unavailable for comments.

“Safety factor of a devotee,” a PMC official added, “is the responsibility of the district administration. Putting up barricades on ghats does not come under the PMC’s jurisdiction. Also, the communication in this regard from the district administration was made too late. It is not possible for us to float tenders and get the work done by selecting a contractor within three-four days.” Another official of the cash-strapped civic body said: “It took around Rs 50 lakh to do the same work at the ghats before Chhath. We could not disburse salaries to our workers in the past two months; how can the district administration expect that we would do this work using our own resources?”

DM Singh requested devotees to take bath on safe ghats only and maintain a queue. In case of distress, anyone can call district control room 0612-2219 810/234 or police control room 0612-2201 977/978.

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