PA system pill to plug hearsay

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  • Published 21.10.14

Chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on Monday advised using public address system pill to nip rumour in the bud at Chhath ghats.

This Chhath, all the ghats along the banks of the Ganga would be equipped with proper public address (PA) systems to guide devotees in emergency situations and give them the true picture if any rumour spreads. Manjhi said this on Monday while inspecting the Chhath ghats of Patna.

“We shall ensure that the best quality of PA systems are put in place at the ghats to prevent rumour-mongers from taking people for a ride,” Manjhi said.

The chief minister’s initiative assumes significance because there was no PA system in place at Adalat Ghat, where a rumour regarding snapping of a live electric wire spread during the Chhath in 2012. By the time the administration could swing into action, as many as 18 lives were lost.

Something similar was witnessed at Gandhi Maidan on the Dussehra day this year. An identical rumour led to panic, triggering a stampede in which 33 people died.

The chief minister embarked on the ghat inspection with water resources minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary and urban development and housing minister Samrat Chaudhary. He started the recce from Nasriganj Ghat in Danapur at 4pm. His last stopover was Gai Ghat at 5.30 pm.

“Manjhi visited over 70 different ghats during the one-and-a-half-hour-long inspection,” said an official who accompanied the chief minister during the recce.

Unlike Nitish, who used to take keen interest while inspecting the ghats, Manjhi preferred to sit in a chair on the steamer during the entire journey. Nitish, when at the helm of affairs, used to enquire about each and every passing ghat. But Manjhi let the water resources minister do the talking on the condition of the ghats with the senior officers, including chief secretary Anjani Kumar Singh. The minister was found roaming around the steamer and minutely observing the preparations at each ghat.

The minister observed that the water level of the Ganga had increased by 5ft and could create problem in erecting barricades.

Patna district magistrate Abhay Kumar Singh, divisional commissioner Narmadeshwar Lal, principal secretary (home) Amir Subhani, director-general of police (DGP) P.K. Thakur, Patna municipal commissioner Kuldip Narayan, senior superintendent of police Jitender Rana and inspector-general of police Kundan Krishnan accompanied Manjhi during the inspection.

The district magistrate stood beside the chair of the chief minister holding a list containing the names of the ghats in his hands. He also drew attention of the chief minister towards LCT and Pahalwan ghats, where the Chhath preparation work was going on. Commissioner Narayan was keen on showing Manjhi the garbage-free ghats.

DGP Thakur told The Telegraph during the inspection: “Adequate force would be deployed at ghats. Two companies of Rapid Action Force would also be pressed into service. CCTV cameras would be installed and our focus would be on tackling the rumour-mongers.”

When the steamer was about to reach Gai Ghat, where the inspection concluded, Manjhi left his chair and started waving at the people on the riverbank. But only a few responded, as they were more interested in watching the steamer full of cops.