The Telegraph
Sunday , August 17 , 2014
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Chhath work begins early

Patna, Aug. 16: Early start to Chhath preparations, instead of the last-minute rush, is a priority for the district administration this year.

District magistrate Manish Kumar Verma is intent on ensuring there is no confusion during Chhath — the state’s biggest festival. Memory of the 2012 stampede Adalat Ghat is still fresh. The tragedy claimed at least 22 people.

He has instructed teams to start inspecting ghats and decide security arrangements, including barricades, to be made to ensure a safe festival. Chhath will fall around the last week of October this year.

An official said: “Instructions have come from district magistrate Manish Kumar Verma to ensure preparations for the festival start early this year. There should be no confusion about safety of the pilgrims. There are strict instructions not to leave the work for the last moment.”

Verma told The Telegraph that separate teams have been formed to inspect each of the ghats in the city.

He said: “The teams comprise officials of the district administration and Patna Municipal Corporation. Each of the teams is in charge of a group of ghats. They have been asked to focus more on the ghats where devotees offer arghya every year. The members would visit the ghats and visualise the different kind of arrangements to be made for the safety of the devotees. There will be separate lanes for men and women, strong barricades in vulnerable spots, proper sanitation facilities and makeshift washrooms. Safety of the devotees is the administration’s primary objective. The teams will prepare a blueprint of the ghats and submit it to the my office.”

Poor planning in 2012, sources said, led to the stampede in the narrow alley leading out of Adalat Ghat.

Coordination with non-government organisations and financial bodies that adopt ghats during Chhath is also being expedited. Verma said: “The inspections should be done by August 30. Based on the reports, work will start from the first week of September.”

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