The annual palkhi procession of Sant Dnyaneshwar and Sant Tukaram from Alandi and Dehu to Pandharpur, which will arrive in Pune city on Friday, would see warkaris actively participating in cleanliness drive in tune with the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
Narhari Maharaj Choudhari, senior warkari leader, said the annual pilgrimage would also see warkaris spreading the message about environmental protection.
Rajabhau Chopdar, senior functionary of the Alandi Devasthan, said they would be distributing more than 50,000 plastic bags amongst the dindis to help them in the cleanliness mission. “We have asked the dindis to ensure no one litters on the palkhi path,” he said. Alandi Devasthan has arranged for six water tankers for use by warkaris.
Choudhari said that this year, the message of protection of the environment would be the central theme in the pilgrimage. “We will be talking about the need to protect our environment and also to stop environmental degradation and pollution,” he said.
To ensure cleanliness of villages through which the palkhi procession passes, the Pune Municipal Corporation has decided to distribute mobile toilets to each group participating in the annual pilgrimage.
“Lakhs of devotees participate in the annual pilgrimage that passes through the city. The procession rests in the city before proceeding. Therefore, the PMC has to make arrangements to meet the civic demands of the pilgrims,” said Mayor Dattatraya Dhankawade. PMC will focus on providing clean drinking water, place for pilgrims to stay and medical facilities. “A medical team of PMC accompanies the procession till Pandharpur. This time, the civic body has decided to provide mobile toilets to each group till Pandharpur so that the area through which the procession passes remains clean,” Dhankawade said.
PMC would be spending Rs one lakh from each of the 152 elected representatives’ local area development fund to purchase the mobile toilets, Dhankawade said, adding, the civic body would urge the groups to deposit the mobile toilet back with PMC during their return journey.
Arrangements for accommodation of pilgrims has been made in civic schools while the civic administration has been directed to reserve beds in private hospitals for emergency purposes, Dhankawade said.
Meanwhile, Pune rural police and the city police too are getting ready for the Wari. Senior officers from both police establishments have already held a meeting of local police stations for deployment. Pune rural police also conducted a mock drill at Alandi Devsthan on Monday.
Gearing up to receive pilgrims on Friday, health authorities at the PMC and officials at Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have formed teams for inspecting and checking food stalls. Dr S T Pardeshi, acting chief of PMC’s health department, said a mobile team of medicos has also been formed to ensure an immediate response in the event of untoward incident during the pilgrims’ visit.
Arrangements have been also made at PMC-run schools at Nana Peth and Bhawani Peth so that immediate medical relief can be provided at these places. At FDA, assistant commissioner Dilip Sangat said all their 23 food safety officers had started an inspection drive to ensure that items at the food stalls along the route are safe.