Officials gear up for Basant Panchami rush

  • K Sandeep Kumar/kenneth John, Hindustan Times, Allahabad
  • |
  • Updated: Feb 13, 2013 14:20 IST

As months of planning and brainstorming failed to prevent a stampede and loss of lives at the Allahabad railway station on Sunday, officials are now going into a huddle to ensure no such incident is repeated on February 15 when millions once again converge at the Sangam for the second biggest snan of the Kumbh Mela on Basant Panchami.

With 1.93 crore pilgrims expected to pour in from all over the country for this bathing festival, the already shaken officials face no easy task. What is more, the Mauni Amavasya pilgrims have still not vacated the Kumbh Mela area completely, though thousands of devotees have already started arriving for the Basant Panchami ‘snan’.

Carrying airbags and other belongings, devotees could be seen arriving in the city from all six entry points on foot as well as on government buses and other private modes of transport.

On its part, the railways is planning on better coordination with both the mela and district administration. After the stampede, the railway authorities have been taking all precautions for not allowing passengers to enter the station from the Civil Line side.

“Overcrowding of pilgrims on the station premises will be avoided at all costs,” said Sandeep Mathur, chief public relations officer of North Central Railway.
Senior railway officials held a meeting here to firm up their plans to deal with the rush on February 15.

The railways are likely to approach the state government for more security personnel to manage the crowd better at the railway station. District magistrate Raj Shekhar chaired a meeting of senior officials to discuss several measures for the safety of the pilgrims.

A communiqué issued here on Tuesday said repeated public announcements would be made in the Mela area about availability of trains and buses, their destinations and their timings for different destinations.

Temporary holding areas would be set up in Mela area and the city limits for controlling movement of devotees. Divisional commissioner Devesh Chaturvedi, who is the nodal officer of Kumbh Mela, said a high-level video conference was scheduled with the principal secretary (home) and the director general of police.


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