It is for the first time in the history of Himachal Pradesh that we have had such a large scale tragedy in one of our Holy places. Today in Himachal, which is known as the Land of Gods, even Gods must be ashamed of the cruelty and negligence of â€œusâ€ its caretakers. I consider it as a wakeup call from The Gods to the administration to get practical and do something before it is too late. Strong words or announcements would not help. A different level of commitment is required from the administration to prevent the same from happening again.
Long time ago most of the temples accumulating millions of rupees in donations from devotees, including Naina Devi were taken over by the government. The local SDM has been given the charge of an administrator of the local temples whereas Deputy Commissioner manages all temples under his district. A share of duties has even been handed over to the tehsildar too. Unfortunately with rising population all administrative authorities are under tremendous workload and get an opportunity to visit the temple only to inaugurate an occasion, like a fair.
In the case of Naina Devi I am pretty sure that the local administrator must have visited the temple on the very first day of Navratra, got the best seat in the temple and performed havan and puja as a chief guest with VIP treatment. On the very same day he or she might have even made the Gods to wait! Such is apathy of temple management in Himachal that the day administrators or Politicians visit the temple, public is the one which suffers. What an apathy that the poor devotees have to pay the price for these front row attendeeâ€™s incapabilities to do their jobs. So is our media. They will be there to count the bodies. Didnâ€™t they get a chance to go through the temple management or for that matter the emergency management ever?
It is no hidden fact that temple management in Himachal is just for the names sake. During my school days, I remember the local priest and the local temple committee managing all the affairs including handling major fairs and they used to do a wonderful job. I was born and brought up in a temple town, Baijnath to be more precise. Shivratri and Shravan Mondays are big affairs in that temple and I remember us doing everything on our own as the local admin was not in control of the temple at that time. From managing the stalls, lining up devotees for darshan of Lord Shiva to collecting the funds from locals to arrange all the activities, we used to manage on our own.
Gone are the days! They use to be fun filled and quite engaging with a strong sense of community building. And everything use to pass like a wink.
Now the temples look more like a police cantonment or a SDM court. Police gives the best darshan to pass holders and its own family and friends. The SDM/DC/MLA/CM/Governor gets privilege to perform the first havan. I am sure that God never set any priorities but we sure forced him to.
Itâ€™s a shame that those whose negligence has led to this disaster are sitting in the comforts of their homes and their hearts are not bleeding on this tragic time. I wish they wake up and do something, firm solutions not just announcements and monetary relief. Cause the way our infrastructure is failing it will not be too long before the helm would be spared. The agony is that the administration comes into action only when the tragedy has struck. They do not have any firm emergency management plan as is evident from the Naina Devi tragedy that the help reached the victims in couple of hours.
Since long we are preaching that Himachal and Himachalis need to unite and work with a strong bond as it is a small, unknown and also poor state. Instead of discussions on internet I guess it is time that we all unite and work together for better Himachal and make our voices heard to those who are sitting in their homes and are responsible for the disasters like this so that they can be avoided.
Photo by Yash.