Kedarnath pandal in Ranchi declared ‘unsafe’
The Kokar Durga Puja Samiti here saw high drama on Saturday night when Puja organisers refused to listen to the Ranchi district administration’s instruction to change the structure of the pandal, a 40-foot-high model of the Kedarnath temple.
The administration had on inspection found the staircase for visitors sloping, badly constructed and unsafe.
For three hours, Puja organisers and volunteers protested against the notice issued by the district administration. They switched off the lights at the pandal and refused to accept the notice.
Late in the night, the Puja pandal was reopened.
Ranchi SDO Lokesh Mishra said the administration had sent a notice to the Puja committee president Chanchal Chatterjee, secretary Arjun Yadav and other office-bearers. “Safety can’t be ignored. But they (organisers) refused to acknowledge the notice,” said the SDO.
He added the district administration inspected all Puja pandals on safety parameters and Puja committees had to get no-objection certificates from fire, power and building construction departments.
“At this particular Puja, the building construction team found the stairs risky. We asked organisers to make alternative arrangements to avoid a mishap. When they refused, we pasted a notice at the venue. Their refusal to accept and reply to the notice means they would be held solely responsible for any mishap,” the SDO said.
He added the Sadar police station, under which the venue falls, had been told. “I must clarify that the district administration has not issued any order to stop worship or closure of the pandal,” he added.
Puja committee secretary Yadav said that the stairs would not cause any accident. “There were gaps between stairs that we covered with aluminium sheets. Our volunteers are helping devotees,” he said. “We take full responsibility for the safety of our visitors,” he added.
A policeman said 50,000 devotees visit this Puja pandal a day and the number is likely to peak on Monday.