The organisation of the Maharashtra Bhushan Award ceremony on Sunday at Kharghar in Navi Mumbai was an exercise in gross mismanagement. Had the state government planned the event properly then the lives of 11 persons who died of heatstroke could have been saved. The condition of some of those admitted to MGM hospital, Vashi, is still critical. Over Rs 13.62 crores were spent in organising the event, but nobody thought of the heat in which lakhs of people who would be forced to sit in an open ground. Even though the cause of the deaths was heatstroke, Raigad collecter Yogesh Mhase said most of those who died had comorbodities. The government was clearly trying to shift the blame on the victims themselves.
𝗘𝘃𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝘃𝗲𝗻𝘂𝗲 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗼𝗽𝗲𝗻 𝗴𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗻𝗱 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝘀𝗵𝗲𝗱𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗲𝗻𝘁𝘀
The venue of the event was on open ground and there were no sheds or tents for the followers of Dattatreya Narayan Dharmadhikari, 77, popularly known as Appasaheb Dharmadhikari, who was conferred the Maharashtra Bhushan award. Only the VIP guests had pandals in which they could escape the blazing sun. Those on the dais not only had a pandal, but also standee fans to protect them from the heat. Lakhs of several others were simply exposed to the 42 deg C temperature with not even a semblance of a shade. No shade was provided for them since the government wanted to shower rose petals on them from helicopters. Also, a shade on top would have made it impossible to take drone shots from cameras. Many were of the opinion that the government committed a Himalayan blunder by holding the function in the afternoon when the sun would be blazing maximum. The event could have been held in the evening.
𝗣𝘂𝗯𝗹𝗶𝗰 𝘁𝗿𝗮𝗻𝘀𝗽𝗼𝗿𝘁, 𝗽𝗿𝗶𝘃𝗮𝘁𝗲 𝘃𝗲𝗵𝗶𝗰𝗹𝗲𝘀 𝘄𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗼𝘄𝗲𝗱 𝗶𝗻 𝟭 𝗸𝗺 𝗿𝗮𝗱𝗶𝘂𝘀
Public transport or private vehicles except those with special passes were stopped around one km from the venue. Members (visitors) had to walk all the way to the venue and return in the scorching heat. Even during the event, a large number of people required medical assistance. On the day of the event, while talking to the media, Revati Gaikar, deputy collector of Raigad, said doctors at 32 booths provided medical assistance to many visitors and most of them complained of dehydration. Many were required to be immediately shifted to hospitals. There was no adequate provision for water.
𝗜𝘁 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗮 𝗴𝗼𝘃𝘁 𝗳𝘂𝗻𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻, 𝗵𝗮𝗱 𝗻𝗼 𝗿𝗼𝗹𝗲 𝗶𝗻 𝗼𝗿𝗴𝗮𝗻𝗶𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗴: 𝗗𝗵𝗮𝗿𝗺𝗮𝗱𝗵𝗶𝗸𝗮𝗿𝗶 𝗣𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗶𝘀𝗵𝘁𝗵𝗮𝗻
The Nanasaheb Dharmadhikari Pratisthan said it was a government function and they had no role in the organisation. However, members of the Prathishtan said refused to talk on the issue. “There was adequate arrangement of water at the venue but was it far away from the ground and fetching water to everyone sitting in the ground was not possible,” said an official from the Panvel Municipal Corporation, requesting anonymity.
Alert Citizen Forum (ACF), a Navi Mumbai-based NGO, raises civic and administrative issues and said that it was a complete failure of the local administration who could not gauge the severity of the weather. “The official who briefed the chief minister should have spoken about the weather condition,” said Sudhir Dani, founder of ACF. He added that despite spending crores, they could not make a shed or tent at the venue for visitors. “Like the previous award ceremony of Maharashtra Bhushan, this could have done in Mumbai in a small event. But it was more for votes and show of power,” said Dani.
𝗚𝗼𝘃𝘁 𝘁𝗿𝗶𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗼 𝘀𝘂𝗽𝗽𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘁𝗿𝘂𝘁𝗵
The worst part after the tragedy was that everyone in power was trying to suppress the truth from emerging. The district administration and the police simply clammed up and it was not until late evening that the enmormity of the tragedy unfolded. It was only after chief minister Eknath Shinde visited the hospital and briefed the media, did the facts come out.
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