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Mount Mary fair in Mumbai: BMC ignores all suggestions from locals for policy

Civic body sought suggestions to policy on safety, but made no changes to last year’s version

mumbai Updated: Sep 09, 2017 00:55 IST
Geetanjali Gurlhosur
Geetanjali Gurlhosur
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Mount Mary Fair,Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation
Shopkeepers decorate stalls before Mount Mary Fair in Bandra on Thursday. (Shashi S Kashyap/ HT )

Every year, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation takes certain measures to ensure a peaceful and safe Mount Mary Fair and residents claim that every year the civic body doesn’t incorporate their suggestions to the fair policy despite opening it for public recommendations.

Before lakhs of devotees could flock to Mount Mary Basilica in Bandra in the second week of September, the BMC drafts rules for better fire safety and security. However, residents of St John Baptist Road said their major suggestions, which the BMC did not pay any heed to, were relocation of police chowky at St John Baptist junction, relocation of stalls that block fire hydrants and making dedicated pathways for emergency vehicles.

Activist Lillian Pais said, “The makeshift police chowky blocks half of DP Road. The closest fire hydrant to the Mount Mary steps is behind the chowky. I had even suggested an alternative location near Mount Mary steps.”

Residents said a fire broke out near the steps in 2011 and the firemen were unable to reach there soon. According to a 2015 HC order, fire safety and movement of pedestrians should be a priority in the policy. “BMC officials have not visited the site despite many requests,” said Pais.

An official in charge of the policy said no changes were made this year. “The best location for the makeshift chowky was marked by the police. There will be barricades on Mount Mary Kane road with stalls only on one side,” said the official.

AV Kale, deputy chief fire officer, told HT, “Fire officials inspected the area on Thursday and ascertained that fire engine could enter DP Road.”

Skip the traffic, watch fair festivities on TV, web

Devotees from across the country will be able to watch services at Mount Mary Basilica during the Bandra fair with live streaming of celebrations from 5.30am to 10pm on an online platform and cable TV.

“We were in talks with various mediums last year too but we got late. So this year we ensured we provide this service to devotees,” said Fr Michael Goveas, Vice-Rector, Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount, Bandra.

Apart from that, those visiting the church during these 10 days will now be allowed to access the area near the altar and will be allowed to sit on the benches to pray. “All these years we used to have two or three entries but this year to satisfy everyone, we have kept only one entry open, so that everyone can reach the altar,” said Goveas.

When asked if this single file would create any kind of inconvenience for devotees, Goveas said an additional 15-20 minutes would be worth the wait.

While the festivities begin nine days before the feast day (September 8), which is the birthday of Mother Mary, Bandra fair begins on the Sunday after the feast. The period of Novena is celebrated nine days prior, wherein only Catholics attend the mass. However, during the fair period, people from all communities take part in the prayers.

On the last day of the fair (September 17), to mark an end to the festivity, Archbishop of Bombay Cardinal Oswald Gracias will read out the mass and there will be a special service for the elderly and sick on September 18.

First Published: Sep 09, 2017 00:55 IST