A YEAR ago on Bhootni Amavasya, waters of river Narmada at Dharaji washed away over 70 people who had gone there for a holy dip, and the tragedy in its wake also ‘claimed’ several others including then Dewas Collector Ashish Shrivastava and SP R K Chaudhary.
This time, present Collector Umakant Umrao and SP Anshuman Yadav are not taking any chances. Apart from the human tragedy last year, one of the main allegation was the failure of top officials to reach the spot even 24 hours after the tragedy. To be on the safer side, this time, both the Collector and Superintendent of Police are camping at the site throughout the night.
Not that there are any chances for a repeat of the tragedy since no water from the NHDC dam in Punasa would be released this year. Last year, there was total communication failure between the district administration and NHDC officials as a result of which the latter released water from the dam, which washed away people, who were taking a bath.
Most of the people who had drowned last year could not negotiate the force of the water that suddenly descended upon them. This time to prevent anyone from drowning even in the gentle flow of the Narmada (thanks to the dam upstream), divers from the Home Guard will patrol up and down the river in three boats. Also an SAF company, local police and Home Guards have been stationed there – being led by the additional SP and ADM.
Every year thousands of people throng Dharaji to take a holy dip on the auspicious occasion, and this year also anywhere between one to two lakh persons are expected to take a dip in the Narmada.
The bathing takes place throughout the day, but the maximum number of people take a dip between midnight and 4 am, as they believe that all their sins will be washed away.