Mumbai: With Janmashtami around the corner, dahi-handi groups have their eyes trained on the safety of the govindas this year. Several members have put forward their list of needs to the Samanvaya Samiti, which include the use of rubber mats and clean grounds to reduce injuries, if any. “We have not been provided any insurance by the civic body. Hence, we are asking for the mats. This will help in minimising injuries,” said Prashant Surve from Mazgaon Tadwadi Ganeshotsav Mandal.
Echoing the same sentiments, Ganesh Advidekar from Aadhar Govinda Pathak, said, “Having a safe dahi handi should be the motto of all the organisers. If they can provide large sums of money as the grand prize, the least they can do is get the ground clean and avoid having handis on the road, as it is dangerous.” Organisers also added that the small protection measures would also encourage younger boys to join the mandals and promote a sense of camaraderie.
Two weeks ago, mayor Sunil Prabhu had proposed to the civic authority to insure all the govindas in the city. He urged municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte to consider the proposal on humanitarian grounds in view of the disasters that could take place during festivals. However, the civic body rejected the proposal considering the huge costs the BMC would incur to provide insurance to all the govindas.
“There are over 600 govinda mandals in the city, each having over 200 govindas. The cost of insuring all of them would be Rs 30 lakh,” said a senior official, adding that taking into consideration the prohibitive expenses, BMC has come up with an alternate plan of providing the injured with free treatment for up to Rs 10,000 at civic hospitals. Additionally, Rs 1 lakh would be provided to the families of those who die participating in the festivities.
Standing committee chairman Rahul Shewale said, “We had a meeting last week with the commissioner following which we came to this decision. After reviewing last year’s data, we observed that there were few deaths and allocation of Rs 48 lakh would be too much.” Confirming the same, additional municipal commissioner (finance) Rajiv Jalota said, “We will not be giving insurance to anyone, but free treatment for up to Rs 10,000 would be provided to any injured person.”
Case in point
Last year, a resident of Lalbaug, Raju Gawde was injured when he participated in the breaking of the matki. “I was standing on the third level of the seven-level pyramid when something went wrong and we fell down. I lost consciousness for sometime. The doctor advised me four months’ bed rest owing to which my wedding had to be postponed.”