Simhastha: Preemptive action averted harm during second thunderstorm

  • Manoj Ahuja, Hindustan Times, Ujjain
  • Updated: May 10, 2016 21:38 IST
Shankaracharyas’ camps in Rudrasagar area at Simhastha were waterlogged on Tuesday. (HT photo)

Preemptive action and better coordination between Ujjain administration and regional meteorological department prevented causalities at Simhastha Kumbh in Ujjain on Monday even though the number of pilgrims was more than triple than that on May 5.

Seven people were killed and more than 90 injured at Simhastha Kumbh on May 5 when high-speed winds flattened makeshift tents of pilgrims and sadhus. The suddenness of the thunderstorm had caught the pilgrims on the wrong foot as the administration had failed to issue a warning. In contrast, about 20 people sustained injuries following rains and thunderstorm on Monday and all expect two have been discharged.

“We were in touch with the Ujjain administration and had advised them to shift people out of makeshift tents after 2 pm for the next few days, as the system that caused rains and thundershowers on May 5 is still active in the region. This system becomes active after 2 pm when the clouds start developing and wind velocity picks up,” met department Bhopal director, Dr Anupam Kashyapi, told HT.

The Ujjain administration had issued a high alert on Monday when an estimated 30 lakh people were in town to take a holy dip in Kshpira on the occasion of shahi snan.

“When clouds started building at around 3 pm, we evacuated the people out of makeshift tents and asked them to take shelter in permanent structures. We were more alert and better prepared to deal with the situation yesterday (on Monday) and even though more than 20 tents collapsed there were no casualties,” an administrative official said requesting anonymity.

Met officials said that the disruptive power of thunderstorms depends on the wind speed at the time of storm. “On May 9, the wind speed was estimated at 40-50 km per hour in Ujjain during the thundery activity and turned into a squall at 70-80 km per hour for some time,” Kashyapi said.

The met department is providing regular updates to the Ujjain administration to ensure that they are not caught unawares again. The department has predicted more thundershowers accompanied with high-speed winds for May 12 and 13.

“The administration was on alert and ready to act swiftly in view of warnings issued by the meteorological department. Around 30 lakh people had taken the holy dip before weather became rough. No casualty has been reported,” Ujjain collector Kavindra Kiyawat said.

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