Who was to open kite festival: CM Nitish Kumar or bureaucrat
PATNA: The Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation expected a massive turnout of local tourists at the kite festival it organised in the Sabbalpur diara on Makar Sankranti.
Yet it did not think it wise to hold a meeting with district officials and make arrangements for their safety.At least 24 people met their watery grave when a boat sailing people back to Patna after the fest, sank into the Ganga on January 14 evening.Sources in the district administration of Patna and Saran, under which the river and the riverine area falls, told TOI on Tuesday the corporation instead wrote a letter on January 10 to the two DMs with copies to police and disaster management officials.
The letter asked the DMs to make arrangements for the state ministers and senior officials as well as “a large number of local tourists”, who would participate in the fest.Contrary to the CM Nitish Kumar ‘s claim that he did not have any idea about the kite festival, the corporation MD in his letter just four days before the fest informed the two DMs that the kite festival was proposed to be inaugurated by the CM.Incidentally, the invite circulated by the tourism corp said the kite fest would be inaugurated by senior IAS official Tripurari Sharan.
The letter to the DMs read, “We request you to arrange for the security and disaster management at Gandhi Ghat in Patna and Sabbalpur diara — like previous year.” The letter, however, did not mention that unlike the last year, the tourism corporation would offer free cruise service to revellers.”Newspaper ads later announced free ferry facility, which attracted a large number of people…
But no meeting of officials concerned was held whereas we used to hold weekly meetings for Prakash Utsav arrangements,” a disaster management official said.Worse, regretted 20-year-old Suman Kumar who was aboard the ill-fated boat and who swam to safety after it capsized, tourism corporation’s MV Ganga Vihar and MV Kautilya Vihar were not there in the evening to bring back the people they had ferried to the diara in the morning.
“Around 3 or 3.30pm, an announcement was made on the public address system that the tourism corporation’s steamers won’t ply after 4pm. And lo, people turned panicky and scrambled to board every private boat that came to the diara bank,” Suman recalled and berated the tourism corporation’s failure to responsibly bring back the people it had ferried to the diara.Why were people left to fall back on private boats for their return journey.
Had government steamers been available to bring them back, they would certainly not have allowed overloading.Also, who made the announcement about the non-availability of government steamers after 4pm? Was someone out to attract business for private boats?One hopes the probe, announced by the state government, finds out answers to all such questions..