Governments failure cost is 27 lives

For the past one year,
there have been pronouncements and publicity galore on Pushkarams. There were
committees after committees and tours after tours. There were more bosses than
there were implementers when it came to pushkarams. Chandrababu himself
reprimanded the officials several times saying he would not tolerate laxity and
laziness. There were warnings galore that all was not well with Pushkaram
works. But, Chandrababu was at his bragging best and would have none of it.
Then there was back-patting after Monday’s laser shows and pyrotechnics. They
said everything was hunky dory and wanted everyone to visit Rajahmundry to have
a holy dip. There were special buses and serpentine railway trains to ferry
across eager pilgrims to the river ghats. Bragging in their voice when they
said there would be an influx 20 lakh pilgrims everyday was difficult to miss.

But, now, moments after
the Pushkarams formally opened, there was tragedy. The hollowness of the
so-called fool-proof arrangements stood exposed. The number of dead is not the
issue here. What is important is why were the commoners made to wait till the
VIPs enjoyed their stay at the Ghat? Would the Water become impure if commoners
bathe alongside the VIPs? The stampede occurred as all the gates were thrown
open moments after the VIPs left causing a deluge of pilgrims.

What were the
arrangements at the ghats? Were there any measures to divert the pilgrims to
other ghats, which had no VIPs? Why was every policeman on duty deployed to
take care of the VIPs leaving the commoners to their fate. Were the officials
trained in dealing with the crises such as these? There are no answers for all
these questions. The only thing that we can expect is an inquiry and a clutch
of suspension orders.

The government has
clearly abdicated its responsibility and washed its hands off by announcing the
customary ex-gratia. For the rulers, the deaths are a mere statistic.

Government had a
responsibility which it did not fulfil. The government, which shifted a senior
police officer with alacrity when she failed to anticipate the ACB trap, has
resorted to the usual committee-report-suspension-ATR game. It is too foolish
to expect that Chandrababu will own up responsibility and resign his post. 

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