With pandemic threat, CM appeals all for quiet celebrations at home
Geetanjali Minhas | August 23, 2021 | Mumbai
With the pandemic, Maharashtra will have muted Dahi Handi celebrations – the main attraction of the Janmashtami festival in the state – for the second year in a row. In a meeting held with Dahi Handi Coordination Committee on Monday, chief minister Uddhav Thackeray appealed to the representatives to give priority to the health of citizens and celebrate the festival quietly on humanitarian grounds. He said that top priority of the government is to save lives first.
During the meeting held online, Thackeray said the entire world is facing the threat of the coronavirus. In the two waves so far, many families have lost their bread-winners and many children are orphaned.
“Feelings all of us are the same. But we have to save the health and lives of citizens. When the question of the first priority comes up, of course, health has to be considered first. We've been fighting the coronavirus for a year and a half and we have limitations,” said Thackeray, categorically stating restrictions need to be considered.
“Some people speak against restrictions. They should agitate against Covid-19, rather than agitate against the government. Our experience in the two waves is bitter. World over it is the same. Even the countries that have administered two doses, they are facing the havoc of the third wave. Restrictions are being re-imposed in many countries,” he said.
Responding positively to the chief minister’s appeal, the delegation expressed their desire to undertake social and health-related activities instead of Dahi Handi. Various mandals had requested the state government to allow them to hold Dahi Handi events during the Janmashtami (to be celebrated on August 30) on a small scale.
Thackeray also said that the Policy Commission has raised its concerns in its report on the possibility of a third wave and the number of ICU beds required. “This virus is deadly. We don't have a sure medicine yet but we know the way to prevent coronavisurs. We also have another wave in some districts. Although the infection seems to have decreased in some places, this is the ‘window period’ for you,” he said, adding that the government is enabling the health system.
“We have set a record by vaccinating 11 lakh people in a single day. We are increasing the number of oxygen and ICU beds. But our oxygen production is limited to 1,200 to 1,300 MT per day. He said that if the demand goes above 750 MT, he would have to impose lockdown once again.
Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar too appealed people to cooperate with the government and celebrate the festival at home. He said that if the infection gets out of hand the success achieved so far by strict adherence to restrictions will be wasted.
Dr Sanjay Oak, president, state task force on Covid-19, said that the Delta Plus variant is spreading rapidly and it can be fatal. He said that even if one ‘Govinda’ (participant) in the Dahi Handi squad gets infected, it will immediately affect entire team. He urged everyone to celebrate the occasion by donating blood and distributing medicines and corona-preventive devices.
The Dahi Handi ritual is part of the Janmashtami festival in Maharashtra where colourfully attired youngsters, called Govindas, form a human pyramid to reach an earthen pot containing buttermilk and suspended in mid-air and break it.
Home minister Dilip Walse Patil, revenue minister Balasaheb Thorat, BMC commissioner Iqbal Chahal, Mumbai police commissioner Hemant Nagrale, bureaucrats and doctors were part of the meeting.
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