AFTER A heavy downpour left the venue of Tuesday’s Yoga Day celebration waterlogged, an army of 500 workers led by UT officials went to work overnight to dry it out, making it ready in the nick of time for the day’s main event that was led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
After throwing everything at their command into the eight-week long preparations for the big day, Chandigarh Administration officials were horrified when the skies darkened menacingly late Monday afternoon and opened out to send down 23mm of rain in one hour.
The downpour left the venue waterlogged just as workers were putting the finishing touches at the Le Corbusier-designed venue.
Rainwater soaked through the green-coloured carpets laid out to cover 12 lakh square feet, making it and the 30,000 yoga mats, neatly laid for the participants, soggy. In some place, the water had formed puddles deep enough to splash in.
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With barely 12 hours to go before the start of event, and undeterred by the weatherman’s prediction of more rain, UT officials picked themselves up and swung into damage control mode.
UT superintending engineer CB Ojha, who was part of the team working to get venue back in shape, said: “ When it started raining, we first panicked. For some time we were clueless what to do. However, we regrouped and chalked out a plan, which fortunately worked.”
The plan was this: Immediately, a contingent of 500 men belonging to different departments — engineering, Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation (CITCO) and municipal corporation — were pressed into action to make the complex serviceable for the mega event the next morning.
As many as four truck mounted high-capacity suction machines were deployed in the open area of the venue to clear the water logging. Hand-held vacuum pumps, belonging to CITCO, were also used. Wherever possible, water channels were hastily dug to drain out the water.
In desperation, the engineering department even bought massive sponges at the last moment, distributing these among the workers. With sponge in one hand and a bucket in the other, the workers toiled for the next five hours.
Officials of UT engineering department got into the act themselves, helping the workers re-lay the mats. Top UT officials, including UT adviser Parimal Rai, home secretary Anurag Agarwal, deputy commissioner Ajit Balaji Joshi and additional deputy commissioner Amit Talwar, stayed back at the venue till 2am to oversee the work.
Sanjeev Kohli from the Disaster Management Department, who was in thick of action, said everyone present on the spot chipped in, right from officials to home guard volunteers.
By 3am, when the entry was open for participants, the workers had managed to dry a major part of the venue, 60 per cent of which is grassy and the remaining a concrete expanse. Despite their best efforts, water on a small portion adjoining the pool in front of the assembly could not be cleared.
The workers also managed to get VIP seating areas, medical booths and water booth placed at different parts of the complex back in shape. Before sitting on the mats, participants had to wipe them.
“We manged to put up a successful show, thanks to the exemplary commitment displayed by everyone involved in the event,” said Ajit Balaji Joshi after the event.
Lauding the efforts, UT home secretary Anurag Agarwal said they had to put in desperate efforts for drying the venue by removing the water logged.
He further said: “Despite our best effort, some areas remained damp. I am grateful to all the participants for taking part in the event without complaining.”