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Friday, September 7, 2012

Ganpati volunteers get tips on tackling disaster

Mumbai: In the first initiative of its kind, the BMC's disaster management cell offered a comprehensive training programme to Ganesh mandal volunteers that taught them to handle multiple emergencies from bomb blasts to flash floods. The day-long session was conducted at Worli on Friday. 

    At the end of the session, around 300 'ganasevaks' in their early 20s proudly held certificates to show for it. The parent body of Ganesh mandals, Bruhanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvay Samiti, had approached the disaster management cell requesting them to train its youths following a similar partnership with the Mumbai police. "This is a pathbreaking initiative because the skills that the boys acquired will stand them in good stead not just during Ganeshotsav but throughout the year. After an hour-long lecture in the morning, they received practical lessons in how to extinguish fires, detect short circuits, rescue people during flash floods and waterlogging, and provide first aid," said Naresh Dahibawkar, president of the Samiti. 
    Among the tips the volunteers received were how to administer CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) to patients who may have suffered a heart attack. The cloudburst of July 2005 also figured as a prominent example during the programme. Senior officials of the disaster management cell recalled how the casualties of 26/11 would have reduced had first aid been available to the victims. "It 
took a while before bystanders and the police transported them to hospital. Had they been stabilized on the spot there is a chance more people would have survived," an official said. 
    The Samiti plans a similar exercise 
on September 12, and this time, it hopes more women will participate. "Men tend to hesitate before stepping forward to help women. We are encouraging female 'karyakartas' to take up training," said Dahibawkar. 
Activists urge state not to relax noise norms 
ctivists have urged the state to desist from relaxing anti-noise pollution norms during Ganpati immersions. 
    "Not only is it in violation of Supreme Court orders reiterated by the high court, but it is also harmful to the health of citizens," said Sumaira Abdulali, convenor of Awaaz Foundation. Environmentalist Rishi Agarwal said the relaxing of norms 
would set a bad precedent. "Not allowing the playing of Indian musical instruments does not go against any practice and it shouldn't be encouraged now," he said. 
    On Thursday, the state said it would allow the playing of Indian instruments past midnight on the three days of immersion but the sound level would have to be within the permissible limits. — Clara Lewis

UNDERCOVER RIDE: Taking no chances with the rain god, Ganpati mandals have been covering their idols while transporting them to pandals


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