Devotees thronged the ghats to perform Nahay Khay rituals on Wednesday though the district administration was confused about which banks were safe and which were not.
Late on Tuesday evening, the authorities had come up with a list of 42 ghats they had identified as dangerous. But a little later, they withdrew the list, claiming that it needed changes. Senior officials also claimed that a fresh list of dangerous ghats would be released on Wednesday.
An official of the district administration said: “The list that was sent out yesterday (Tuesday) had to be withdrawn after the district magistrate (N. Saravana Kumar) found out that some of the official who had been given the task of inspecting the ghats had done so last week.”
He added: “As the water level in the ghats of the city changes at short intervals, the officials concerned have been asked to inspect the riverbanks again and prepare a fresh list. The list will be released soon.”
No list, however, was released till the filing of this report on Wednesday evening.
At the district magistrate’s office, an official who did not want to be named said: “There will only be minor changes in the list. Some ghats may be removed from the previous list and some added. But the devotees need not worry. Ghats that will be identified as dangerous would have barricading and notices informing the people about the danger.”
Devotees who performed the Nahay Khay rituals at the ghats on the first day of the biggest festival of the state were unhappy with the administration’s lackadaisical attitude.
Patna City resident Surendra Sinha said: “The list of dangerous ghats is very important. It should have been announced a week or two in advance so that the devotees could be sure about which ghat they want to go to. But the authorities always wake up at the last minute. As a result, the preparations for the festival are never completed on time and leads to mishaps.”
He added that announcing the list after the festival had begun defeated the entire purpose of it. “People will not have time to look at lists once the festival starts. They would be busy with the many rituals of Chhath. Many of them might land up at the dangerous ghats and encounter problems as these will be closed.”
Other devotees echoed him. “The administration should have learnt its lesson after the tragedy at the Adalat Ghat last year. But they seem to be stuck on the old attitude. If the list had been announced earlier, the devotees would have a clearer picture,” said a devotee after performing the rituals at the Collectorate Ghat.
The preparation for the festival at the more popular ghats, like Mahendru and Collectorate, were almost complete on Wednesday.
An official at the Collectorate Ghat said: “The cleaning work is complete. The watch tower and lighting arrangements would be ready soon.”
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