Well over 1.9 crore devotees are expected to converge at the Sangam here this Friday on Basant Panchami— the third biggest Shahi Snan of this Maha Kumbh Mela — amid enhanced transport arrangements, five days after 36 persons were killed in a stampede at Allahabad railway station.
This is also the final Shahi Snan , and the fourth bathing day of this Mela. Traditionally the akharas start to depart from the Mela premises after the final Shahi Snan . The Snan will once again see the 13 akharas take to the Sangam early Friday morning.
The Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation will continue to run 6,000 buses for the day; the number of buses for this Snan was earlier expected to fall to 4,000 after the Mauni Amavasya Snan.
The Railways are also running special trains at various stations on all six entry points to the 4,000-acre city of tents. Besides implementing traffic diversions, temporary holding areas have been set up in the city and close to the junction to regulate pedestrian movement and allow pilgrims space and means to rest.
District Magistrate Kumbh Mela Mani Prasad Mishra said all departments concerned, including the police, had made necessary “improvements and corrections” after Sunday’s incident to ensure a smooth bath. All 22 ghats that are available for the Snan would undergo deep-water barricading to prevent drowning, he added. The routes for the Snan would also be reviewed as an added measure.
In the background of “excess” vehicular movement in the Mela as well as the city in the hours leading up to Sunday’s stampede, the Administration has banned entry of large vehicles into the Mela premises and issued new parking rules for two and four wheelers.
However, the Administration’s attempts to restrict VVIP movement during the main bathing days have been unyielding so far. In the statement issued on February 4 the State government urged VVIPs to “avoid visiting the Mela on the main bathing days and also a day before and after them” as they expected lakhs of visitors. The VVIPs would be provided “proper security arrangements and welcomed with protocol” only if they visited on days other than the ones restricted, the statement added.
However, unrestricted movement of VVIP vehicles was seen in the Mela despite the record number of three-crore devotees visiting the mela on that day.
When pointed out, Mr. Mishra said, “It [movement of VVIPs] should not happen.We will make all efforts not to allow it.”
SSP Kumbh Mela R.K.S Rathore admitted that vehicles, especially tractors from the akharas, were allowed to run in the city during peak hours. “We will not let it happen this time,” he said.
While movement of four-wheelers is generally banned inside the mela premises, the Mahamandaleshwars of the akharas , who live outside the Snan areas, are allowed to travel to the Sangam on decorated tractors.
According to eyewitnesses to the stampede, their journey back to the railway stations and bus stops after Sunday’s Snan was delayed due to the movement of four-wheeler vehicles carrying many VIPs.The Allahabad High Court on Thursday instructed the Administration to seize all vehicles, barring ambulances and those belonging to the police and the magistrate, entering the Mela on Friday. It also ordered deployment of medical services close to bus stops and railway stations.
The Railways will run special trains at various stations on all six entry points All departments has made necessary “improvements and corrections” after Sunday’s incident
The Railways will run special trains at various stations on all six entry points
All departments has made necessary “improvements and corrections” after Sunday’s incident