Ratangarh Temple tragedy stuns everyone
Almost every year hundreds of devotees die in mishaps at pilgrimage places. We stop discussing such incidents after blaming the government or the mismanagement at such places. But nothing concrete in the form of permanent solution comes to curb such tragedies in future. The governments just sit silent after declaring some compensation to the relatives of the victims.
Only stampedes at the pilgrimage places in India have claimed the lives of nearly 700 people during the last 8 years. A media report in 2011 said over 1,000 people had lost their lives by being crushed underfoot during temple stampedes in the previous decade.
In the latest incident of stampede at Ratangarh temple in Madhra Pradesh on October 13, a rumor was spread that the bridge near the temple was going to collapse causing panic among the people. Around 25,000 people were over the bridge at that time. More than 100 people died in the mishap. The authorities cannot shift the blame on others as the same site had witnessed a disaster seven years ago too, when 57 people died on the ninth day of the same festival Navratri. At that time the bridge did not exist and pilgrims had to use boats to reach the temple. And suddenly the river was flooded when a large quantity of water was released from reservoir upstream without and prior warning. Till now no action has been taken against the persons responsible for that act.
Measures should be taken immediately to stop the growing number of casualties at Hindu temples and other religious places as it has become a permanent problem and a regular affair.
Some pilgrimage centres have done admirable work to ensure smooth conduct of the pilgrimage and ensuring zero causality. One of the most famous temples Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu can be said the best example of it. Recently the Shrine Board built dedicated mule track, new and renewable energy related projects, emergency helipad and ropeway projects to help the pilgrims in the most effective manner and to avoid any kind of disaster. The others temples which are known for good management includes Kashi Vishwanath Temple (Varanasi), Tirupati Balaji Temple (Andhra Pradesh), Siddhivinayak Temple (Mumbai), Golden Temple (Amritsar), Meenakshi temple (Madurai), Khajurao Temple (Madhya Pradesh), Somnath Temple (Gujarat), etc.
What needs to be done?
p A comprehensive pilgrimage policy be enacted for taking care of the pilgrims and other arrangements
p Adequate medical facilities be made available on the way to the temples, as the way itself contributes to innumerable deaths of the devotees
p Money donated by devotees to the deities be used only for the betterment of temples and improving infrastructure there
p Crowd management teams should be formed to handle the flow of devotees
p Advance planning keeping in view the possible size of the gathering, the capacity of the event, etc.
February 10, 2013: Kumbh Mela, Nashik
January 14, 2011: Sabrimala Temple, Kerala
June 19, 2008: Amarnath Yatra, J&K
July 2008: Jagannath Yatra, Odisha August 3, 2008: Naina Devi Temple, Himachal Pradesh
September 30, 2008: Chamunda Devi Temple, Rajasthan
January 25, 2005: Mandhar Devi Temple, Maharashtra