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Festivals and Infrastructural Hazards. Is the government ready?

October to December festival carnival calls for an effective, qualitative and efficient management of infrastructure of the country to prevent any infrastructural hazards in our country. It saddens the intellect and thumps the heart of every Indian when we hear about a little girl’s demise during Durga Puja, or stampede in a pilgrimage of Madhya Pradesh or a Kumbh Mela. It shames us when a long queued jam of kilometers in length and days in time is focussed upon by the media.
HazardsAojasvi Raj

The last quarter of the Gregorian calendar in India is embedded with multifarious festivals throughout the territory of India. This last quarter of 2016 is starting from the holy nine days of Navaratri majorly observed in the Hindi belt. This year it is coinciding with the jovial Durga Puja of West Bengal, concluding on the eve of the evil-ending Dussera and mournful Muharram. Concluding October marks Dhan Teras, Diwali and Halloween. Furthermore November marks the celebration of mighty Chatt Puja of Eastern Gangetic belt, Guru Nanak Jayanti of Punjab ending with a boastful thanksgiving. Concluding the year December celebrates Christmas and an eventful and pan-India New Year. Amongst the carnivals of such wide ranging festivities, one thing that is particularly neglected in the infrastructural arrangements and logistics that stress upon the populace and economy of the country.

The Environmental Hazards

Durga idol is made of, plaster of paris (POP) which contains gypsum, magnesium, sulphur, phosphorus. On immersion disposal of this idol in the holy Gangetic waters, we attract polluted water bodies which make a strong case for ecological infrastructural damage and also impacting the water economy of the country. During both these festivals traffic management and streamlined movement of vehicles could get affected thereby halting the economic logistics and tangibility of the metropolis with the national network. Such infrastructural impediment and long queues outside the metropolis markets could add to the lead time of the supply chain and thus adversely impact the economic prospects of the area.

Flood of people

Similar goes the case with MuharramDussera, Diwali, Dhan Teras, Govardhan Puja wherein large masses of pilgrims and celebrators floods the markets and public places during the evening thereby causing a virtual blockade in the flow of vehicular traffic and thus affecting the supply chain of such centres of economic activity. In addition to that these festivals often comes up with fire safety hazards and undue pollution that takes months or year to stabilize and thus attract a strong case for sanctions on pollution emitting vehicles or schemes like “odd-even” that in turn affects adversely the free flow of goods in the market and thus affects infrastructure or stresses the public transport infrastructure thereby skewing the distributive arrangement. Moreover during Govardhan Puja, large tracts of pilgrims makes shunting to their hometown thus creating a labour deficit which in turn proves negative productivity on the economic and infrastructure front. Muharram’s mournful event calls for crowd management and diversion of traffic by blocking the highways or sub-highways for smooth flow of Muharram’s processions across the country. This stresses the infrastructure by virtually halting the market places and economic activity of the markets. In addition to it crowd and traffic management calls for an effective expertise in the sector wherein infrastructural losses and hazards are minimized.

Chatt Puja and Guru Nanak Jayanti affects the infrastructure of the country in a peculiar way. Wherein Guru Nanak Jayanti calls for stressed focus on the Gurudwaras and other pilgrims of the Sikhs, Chatt Puja affects the railway and road infrastructure as a positive balance of migration takes places of pilgrims for a jovial celebration of their respective festivals with their respective families.

Concluding the year, the Christmas week and the New Year calls for effective and efficient management and may also require specially designed infrastructural arrangements on a Pan-India level. Moreover crowd accumulation takes place at tourist places which may require special focus in such places. New Year stresses the environmental, economic, social, road, rail, air infrastructure equally and thus requires a more concerted focus. New Year festivities may also call for sound management systems as a major portion of celebration is made up as loud sound system as a base.

The unsolved Kumbh Maze

Inputs from organizers of recently concluded Simastha Kumbh which went casualty free this year must be drawn out for implementation on a pan-India level. Traffic management and road-rail safety infrastructure must be stressed upon by special trains and also with special personnel units for effective implementation of the safety protocol to prevent any infrastructural hazards. Moreover proper marketing and advertising about the institutional arrangement must be published in national and daily newspapers and television programmes to dispense the information for a crowd sourced implementation and to increase the ease-of-management.

Finally, the perspective !

An effective crowd and vehicular traffic management strategy is desirable for the country taking inputs from international festivals wherein large 5-6 days fests and processions are concluded peacefully without any hiccups. Moreover fire safety protocols must be strengthened and must be trained by experts in black and white before hand to troubleshoot the problem post mishap. Any reformative process would be incomplete without a national policy on infrastructural management during festivals in India which carries in black and white the effective arrangements for local implementing agencies to be carried upon during the time of festivals which arrive rapidly in a country like India. Only then we can ensure a boastful, eventful, cheerful, jovial and a happy celebration of carnivals and festivals of India which acts as our cultural identity globally and will continue to draw and attract global citizens to our eventful nation called India.

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