From the Viewsroom

Celebrate with care

| Updated on October 21, 2018

Organisers of public events and festivals must observe safety norms

The tragic loss of 61 lives on the railway tracks at Joda Phatak, Amritsar, amid Dussehra celebrations was completely avoidable. Many can be faulted for the accident, but not the railways or the driver of the train. The onus of ensuring accident-free events lies with the organisers. It is the job of the local administration to ensure that safety precautions are in place. It is impossible for the railways to keep track of every activity that’s organised along the tracks and vacant land. There should also be questions as to why events that attract large crowds should be organised close to a busy railway line, especially when tracks are not fenced in most parts of the country. It is not that India is not capable of holding incident-free events — the Kumbh Mela is a shining example where millions converge.

Lessons need to be learnt from the Amritsar tragedy. As a country, India has many festivals, celebrations, rallies and political gatherings that spill out of the streets and other public spaces. Sometimes administrations are benevolent to the organisers of such gatherings to avoid confrontations, or for fear of ‘hurting sentiments’. There is only one way to get around apathy of the organisers to safety concerns — a no-nonsense approach to observing rules and regulations for public events. There should also be adequate measures for crowd control. In the specific case of the Amritsar tragedy, hundreds of people stood on railway tracks, which are at an elevation, for a better view of the burning of Ravana’s effigy. That should never have been allowed by the organisers. Also, warning people over public address system is not good enough, especially when people are distracted and fireworks are deafening.

The State government must ensure that the magisterial probe into the accident is free of political interference. Once the report is received, those found guilty of negligence must be held accountable. Going forward, the State, district and local administration need to find ways such as greater use of technology to prevent recurrence of such tragedies, not just in Punjab but in other parts of the country as well.

Tina Edwin Senior Deputy Editor

Published on October 21, 2018

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor