Photo by BL SONI
Photo by BL SONI

Mumbai: Devotees have begun coming to Chaityabhoomi at Shivaji Park, a day before Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s death anniversary on December 6 and much to their dismay their hopes were dashed. Firstly, they have no place to sleep and moreover, the pandal erected for the book exhibition and stalls have all got washed away in the Mumbai rains. Meanwhile,  a pandal fell at Shivaji Park and three people were injured.

The BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation claimed that they had plans, but Ockhi which has severely caused damage to Tamil Nadu and Kerala state and also left some footprint in Mumbai, caused rainfall early on Tuesday morning and troubled the visitors of Chaityabhoomi. The pandals put by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for visitors to take shelter and for other purposes which includes book stalls, exhibition, media centre, control room, etc were completely drenched in the rainwater.

Smital Bhatkar, a 67-year-old woman from Akola, for the past many years visits Chaityabhoomi along with her family. She said, “Usually we stand in queue to pay tribute and return, but as the crowd is more therefore, we come a day before. However, due to rain all our belongings are wet including our clothes. The pandals put up by the authority for taking shelter has leakages, also there is no announcement regarding where to take the relief.”

Another family who has come from Nandurbar added they are clueless as what to do.  Abhishek Bujbal, a visitor said, “We don’t have money to take shelter in some hotel, all are very costly. Hence planning to sit in some near building compound until the rain recedes.”

Many NGOs who rushed to the spot to help people accused the BMC of poor arrangements. Defending the move the officers from BMC remarked for all stranded people necessary arrangements have been made at total 70 civic and private schools for taking shelter. Also, twenty buses of the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) were made available to take people at the shelter schools on Tuesday.

In addition, the BMC Disaster Management cell officials stated there is a high tide of 4.5 metre hence, the entry points to the seashore has been closed. Also for medical assistance nine temporary health centers have been made along with 108 medical ambulance deployed to help people during emergency. While the Disaster Management has also clearly stated no flyover, road and sea-link has been kept close due to Ockhi cyclone and no one should believe in rumours. Meanwhile, it also sent an alert to Mumbaikars and tourists to avoid entering the sea as a safety measure.

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Free Press Journal