Fingers crossed at Kumbh, another shahi snan today

After Sundays stampede, mela authorities are taking no chances

 It would be another test for the administration, which has yet not fully recovered from Sunday’s stampede at Allahabad railway station killing 36 devotees, with around 16 million likely to throng the sprawling Kumbhnagar, the makeshift township on the bank of Sangam, for a holy dip on the occasion of Basant Panchami, the third biggest snan (bathing), on Friday.

Not taking any chances, the authorities were taking measures to ensure foolproof arrangements and avoid recurrence of the tragedy.

Unlike before when both railways and the Mahakumbh administration were caught napping and a huge crowd had gathered at the railway station, the officials this time have decided to regulate the flow of devotees and make sure that large crowds did not gather at any one place.

“We are expecting about 16 million people in the town on Friday though the number could increase,” said a senior official adding that crowd management was going to be an essential part of the preparation.

Repeated intimation

The Kumbh administration has decided to make repeated announcements through the public address system at Kumbhnagar intimating the devotees about the time and place of departure of trains and buses.

“It will ensure that large crowds will not gather at any one place. Trains and buses will be departing from different places so that the crowd is scattered,” the official said.

“We have also identified vacant fields in the city where the crowd can be kept temporarily in case of crowd pressure at the railway station or bus stations,” said Allahabad district magistrate Rajshekhar.

The state government has deputed two dozen additional provincial service officers to help oversee the arrangements on the occasion of Basant Panchami.

Besides additional companies of the Provincial Arms Constabulary, senior police officials had also been put on Kumbh duty, sources here said.

Northern Railway has also geared for Friday’s rush and arranged special trains to clear the crowd quickly from the railway stations. Taking lesson from Sunday’s tragedy when medical assistance could not be provided to the injured devotees claiming many lives, the railway has kept ready a medical van.

“This medical van can be sent to any platform in case of emergency. It is equipped with oxygen cylinders,” an officer  said.

Meanwhile, the forecast of rains on Friday has made the administration jittery as it could create problems in the smooth conduct of the snan.

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