Police find 5 major shortcomings in Sri Sri Ravi Shankar event

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New Delhi, March 9 (IANS) Lack of “structural stability” is among five major “shortcomings” detected by Delhi Police in the infrastructure being readied for the three-day World Culture Festival being organised by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living Foundation on the Yamuna flood plain in the national capital.

The police report, recently submitted to the Home and Urban Development ministries, raised serious concern about the law and order situation during the event due to these defects.

The report reveals that the basic requirement of the festival, on structural stability, is yet to get approval certification from the authority concerned.

Delhi Police officers had inspected the venue with other government agencies involved in the organisation of the event. The AoL Foundation had said in its promotional literature that it was expecting 35 lakh people at the venue, although on Wednesday it told the Green Tribunal that the number of people at the festival would be around three lakh only. The venue is spread over 1,000 acres.

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The structural stability of the stage is a significant issue as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, besides other VIPs, is expected to attend the event.

“The Delhi Police raised the security concern as it has to maintain law and order in the city along with the responsibility of prime minister’s security,” said a Delhi Police officer, on condition of anonymity.

The passages leading to the event are also of major security concern to the Delhi Police brass as the number of temporary pontoon bridges constructed on the Yamuna river were only half of the number promised by the event organisers.

Police said the event managers had promised to prepare seven such bridges but only two had been set up so far two days ahead of the event.

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The inspection team of the Delhi Police paid attention to these bridges as 15,000 people are expected to cross them in an hour, which could develop into a stampede-like situation.

Further, there is no protection — like handrails — on the sides of the pontoon bridges which could prove to be life threatening as people may fall into the river while crossing, the report said.

The report also mentioned the threat perception at such a mass gathering, in the wake of an Intelligence Bureau alert about the infiltration of 10 suspected terrorists through the Gujarat border with Pakistan.

Lack of enough parking space is also a major lacuna in planning, the police report mentioned.

“Organisers have claimed that around 10,000-12,000 cars, carrying VVIPs, would reach the venue. But the land for suitable parking has yet to be prepared,” the report said.

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In response to the report, the home ministry has ordered the police to handle the event “carefully with adequate measures”.

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