All set for a summer Ram leela | delhi | Hindustan Times
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All set for a summer Ram leela

A large banner with messages against corruption and lifesize photographs of Baba Ramdev greeted visitors heading for the Ramlila Ground at central Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Marg on Thursday.

delhi Updated: Jun 02, 2011 23:34 IST
Nivedita Khandekar

A large banner with messages against corruption and lifesize photographs of Baba Ramdev greeted visitors heading for the Ramlila Ground at central Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Marg on Thursday.

The huge pandal, a waterproof structure 30 ft tall covering around 2.5 lakh sq ft, dominated the sprawling grounds.

Preparations were on in full swing for Ramdev’s fast-unto-death against corruption, which will begin on Saturday.

One lakh people — mostly Ramdev’s followers through his Patanjali Yogpeeth and Bharat Swabhiman Manch — are expected to join the agitation.

The tent is fitted with as many as 780 fans, 100 coolers and a water purifier plant which can filter 1,200 litres per hour.

Purushottam Kalra, president of the Shamiyana Dealer Vyapar Sudhar Samiti, Delhi, said: “Such arrangements will cost at least R2 crore.”

But almost everything is being taken care of by Ramdev’s followers as seva (free service). Jitendrabhai Joshi has brought the sophisticated sound system and giant LED screens all the way from Gujarat’s Rajkot. “I can do at least this bit for the baba,” said Joshi, whose event management company has earlier organised programmes like Vibrant Gujarat in Ahmedabad.

Haridwar’s Vrindavan Tent House has put up the tent, while electrical fittings have been taken care of by another follower, a contractor from Rishikesh.

Bharat Swabhiman Trust, floated by Ramdev a year ago, has been instrumental in the preparations. More than Rs 18 crore has been pumped in for initial preparations in Delhi while several crores are being spent across the country, said sources.

Asked about the funding, Col (Retd) RS Gaba, patron of Bharat Swabhiman Manch, Delhi, said: “Everything comes from donations. Accounts are regularly audited and income tax returns filed.”

A questionnaire mailed to SK Tijarawala, Ramdev’s spokesperson, on the arrangements and funding, went unanswered.

“We have separate committees to take care of various arrangements, there will be about 5,000 volunteers working in shifts,” Gaba said.

The MCD is making the provisions for sanitary arrangements, said Subhash Arya, leader of the MCD house.

Nearly 10 million people associated with Patanjali Yog Samiti units across the country’s 624 districts will join the protest at their district headquarters on Saturday, said Acharya Balkrishna, second-in-command of Patanjali Yogpeeth.