Despite the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s efforts, the crowd gathered around Shivaji Park in Dadar to attend the 60th death anniversary of Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar Tuesday appeared dissatisfied with the arrangements made by it. The BMC had earlier estimated that around 8 lakh people from all over the country would assemble in the area to pay their respects on Mahaparinirvan Din at Chaitya Bhoomi where Dr Ambedkar’s remains were interred.
“There are just a few functioning toilets for the lakhs and lakhs of people who have gathered here. We are not asking for any comfort, just basic necessities. It will be very helpful if the government keeps in mind health and sanitation while approving the budget,” said Shikar Gaikwad, who arrived from Nagpur two days ago.
Apart from toilets, concerns were also raised about the arrangements made for food and water supply within the premises. “There is no systematic distribution system. We have been standing in the queue for the last two hours to get food. We cannot afford outside food, and most hotels outside the park seem expensive,” said Kanta Kumar from Chhattisgarh. While the BMC has organised a food pandal, some organisations were distributing food outside the park premises.
Various stall owners also faced the problem of space crunch, as the erection of stalls were still in progress Monday. “We have paid for the stall, but weren’t given the space to place our things till late morning. The government is still in the process of erecting stalls. At the end of the day, we are here for business and we have paid for the stalls,” said a businessman, also from Nagpur.
However, people also agreed that the facilities were better than the previous years. Banthe Piyarath, from Dehradun, has been visiting Shivaji Park for the last five years, and says the arrangements made this year were much better. “There are so many mobile toilets this year. The entrance and exit is hassle free, unlike previous years. I wish there were more mandals for people to stay, as they usually end up sleeping on the ground,” said the monk.
The BMC has organised over 200 mobile toilets and bathrooms, along with 350 taps for drinking water. They have also organised two mandals for staying, and one each for performing prayers and for food. With 70 doctors stationed at the park, the BMC also has 15 ambulances in place. Special benches have been arranged around the park for senior citizens to rest.
“The arrangements made this year is five times more than previous years. We are expecting more crowds than usual this year. Security measures have also been increased this year,” said Ramakant Biradar, Assistant Commissioner of G-North.