Eight attendees at open-air award function near Mumbai die due to heat stroke
During his speech, Amit Shah saluted the people for sitting patiently in the 42 degrees C temperatures as an example of their dedication to Appasaheb Dharmadhikari.
NAVI MUMBAI: As many as eight people died while more than 500 got hospitalized due to heat stroke while attending the 'Maharashtra Bhushan 2022' award ceremony in an open-air ground in Navi Mumbai on Sunday. The death toll is likely to rise.
Union minister Amit Shah awarded the 'Maharashtra Bhushan 2022' award to reformer Appasaheb Dharmadhikari in the presence of Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and deputy chief minister Devendra Fadanvis.
Dharmadhikari was also given a Rs 25 lakh cheque by the Maharashtra government.
More than 15 lakh people, mostly devotees of spiritual leader Dharmadhikari, attended the ceremony at Kharghar in Navi Mumbai in the scorching afternoon heat (45 degrees Celsius temperature). No arrangements for shelter and drinking water were made for the people who attended this event.
Meanwhile, Eknath Shinde visited MGM Hospital to enquire about the patients admitted. He announced Rs 5 lakh to the relatives of the victims. He confirmed that seven to eight people died due to heat stroke.
“The best of the best treatment will be given to the people who are admitted in hospitals due to heat stroke. I am upset and pained about this unfortunate incident but we will take care of the people. 50 people were admitted in this hospital while others are in other hospitals. The government will bear the cost of the medical treatment of the patients. I will not make any political comment about this incident. My first priority is first to give better treatment to these admitted patients,” CM Shinde said.
NCP Youth wing leader Suraj Chavan asked why so many people were invited to the function in the scorching heat if the state government had not made any proper arrangements. “Responsibility should be taken for the deaths of the people. An FIR should be filed against the state government. The 'Maharashtra Bhushan 2022' award function could have also been held in a small place... why do we need such mammoth numbers, that too, in the scorching heat? The state government is solely responsible for this tragedy,” Chavan said.
Congress chief spokesperson Atul Londhe said that it was a government function and hence the safety of the participants was its duty. "So many people have lost their lives. The government should be booked for culpable homicide and action should be taken against those responsible," he demanded.
Londhe termed it as "carelessness" on the part of the government to have organised such a massive event in the open grounds at the height of the summer season.
In fact, during his speech, Amit Shah saluted the people for sitting patiently in the 42 degrees C temperatures as an example of their dedication to Appasaheb Dharmadhikari.
The organisers had claimed that nearly 20 lakh people had attended the mega-event and Shinde had proudly proclaimed how it had broken previous records.
Many of the followers of Shree Parivar (Dharmadhikari's organisation) had reached the venue on Friday and stayed there till the function concluded at around 1.30 pm on Sunday.
On Sunday, some people complained of dizziness and other complications. Some also fainted at the function ground.
They were initially treated at makeshift medical facilities and later rushed to hospitals.
Dharmadhikari has a massive following in the state due to his tree plantation drives, blood donation and medical camps as well as de-addiction work in tribal areas.
People had been trooping into Mumbai in buses, trucks or boats from the Konkan and other parts of the state for the past two days to witness the event.
Many could be seen wearing scarves, caps, umbrella caps or dupattas and other headgear to escape the blistering heat in the function which went on for nearly three hours this afternoon.
Soon after he was conferred the 'Maharashtra Bhushan' award, Dharmadhikari donated the prize money of Rs 25 lakh to the CM's Relief Fund.
(With IANS, PTI inputs)