Wednesday, January 17, 2018
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what a contrast

What a contrast it was to have a look at the Mela after the deluge and comparing that with the heavenly spectacle that was being witnessed continuously for many days. Following the heavy downpour, the Mela area was transformed from heaven into hell. There was water, water at most places with hardly a dry spot to tread upon. The chequered plates had been broken at places. Some of them had slipped from their original spots. They were covered with slush and slime so that the path had become dangerously slippery if not unusable.

Just recall the inauspicious hour when it came down to rain heavily, almost incessantly to flood the entire place. Water entered into most camps. Seers were seeing shifting to dry places. The Kalpvasis were severely hit. All their ration got drenched in rain. Food couldn’t be cooked. Fire couldn’t be lighted either because dung-cakes soaked with water, could barely be used or dry firewood was difficult to light though some people were trying to sprinkle kerosene oil to get the flame. 

The real problem was faced after dusk. Mela lights had been put off for safety. How could any risk be taken? At several places the wires might have snapped and fallen into pools of water below. If current were to flow through them the catastrophe that could occur would have been simply disastrous. Till the other day it used to be daylight at midnight, all due to the marvellous electrification that had been done. But now, without lights the whole area turned into a haunted place. Nothing was visible. No relief work worth the name could be conducted. The rain had come as a boon to farmers growing wheat crops. But so far as pilgrims were concerned it was not a boon but a nightmare. What happened was nothing short of a disaster. And the administration had not apparently made any concrete and effective arrangements for disaster management. They are not exactly to blame because usually it does not rain like cats and dogs during the Magh. All that the authorities were planning-and rightly too- was a foolproof strategy to meet any threat from the terrorists. It is with this in view that CC cameras had been places, sniffer dogs let loose, security personnel in large number pressed into service. But the rain washed away everything. Whether those spy cameras have survived or stolen or become non-functional after the shower is best known to the authorities concerned. But the rain might have proved to be a blessing in disguise if it washed away the paraphernalia that might have been laid by the militants to be used at an appropriate time. If they had indeed planned something very, very disastrous and their plans and preparations were also washed away by the heavy showers then the cloudburst could be regarded as a big boon.

Many Kalpvasis were said to planning to leave the Mela before time. Some had even gone, though there are others who still maintain that they will complete the full month because, according to them, this rainfall, though predicted by weather experts, was nevertheless unusual, untimely and a passing shower, though a very heavy one..

Flu & fever victims rushing to hospitals

Reports indicate that after the heavy shower there have been cases of high fever and flu among the pilgrims. Even some of the seers have not been keeping well. The Health department is doing its best to cater for the needs of the ailing pilgrims and seers and one is sure that no patient will be denied prompt attention. In this connection one must also appreciate the good help being rendered by the IAF in the Mela area itself. The Headquarters, Central Air Command (CAC) set up a First Aid and Primary Medical Treatment Centre in Sector 11 on January 12 and since then it has been working round the clock, catering to the needs of people from other sectors as well. Till Basant Panchmi(Feb 15) the Air Force centre had treated 1,55.600 patients. It will continue to function till February 25. It may be recalled that it was the CAC which had provided airlift to Delhi to fire victims who had received severe burn injuries on January 25. A large number of people have benefited from the first-aid facilities . They have treated emergency cases including those suffering from acute illnesses like bronchial asthma, gastro-enteritis, dehydration, hypertension and skin allergies. The Airforce Centre also arranged tea and snacks, food for patients coming from distant places.

Mela patients with serious ailments have been taken for treatment in city hospitals as well. And most of them are recovering fast. But the weather conditions are such as could trap anyone in the grip of various ailments that are currently attacking pilgrims. There is need for precaution among the local people too because if a contagious disease spreads, it may assume the form of an epidemic. Swine flu is haunting and threatening the northern regions. Keep your hands clean. Wash them frequently and don’t touch your eyes, mouth or nose with unclean hands; because if they are carrying the virus it will trap you. There are indications that this virus settles on telephone handles too. So beware!

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