Every Ganeshotsav, the crowded city streets are a nightmare for ambulance drivers and kin of patients being rushed to hospitals as they get stranded in the congested traffic, losing precious minutes. Now, more than 500 bikers in Pune have joined hands and come up with a solution: they have offered to rush patients to hospitals, their bikes doubling as ambulances. This is for the very first time an initiative like this is being undertaken for the festival.
The bikers have approached the Pune regional transport office (RTO) to set up the ‘motorbike ambulance’ project to help patients during the Ganpati festival. In case of emergency, the bike ambulances, equipped with first-aid kits and trained doctors and stationed at various spots, will rush to the patient. However, if the patient requires further treatment, then the only way to evacuate them from the crowded streets would be to travel triple seat on the motorbikes.
Anand Shinde, coordinator of the project, said, “We approached the RTO with this concept and they were very enthusiastic. We have permission from the district collector too. We will get in touch with the officials of the city traffic police department and identify the spots where we will park our motorbike ambulances.”
Anil Valiv, deputy regional transport officer, said, “It is impossible for an ambulance to make its way through the overcrowded streets. That is why we are planning to have motorbike ambulances. We have got approval from the district collector and we will be meeting DCP (traffic) Vishwas Pandhare on Tuesday.”
Valiv added, “The motorbike ambulance will have a basic first-aid kit, an emergency kit and there will also be a doctor to check the patient.”
The project was initiated by Sangram Devkar and Varad More. Devkar said, “More than 500 bikers will be participating in this initiative. Around 250 bikers will work in two shifts each. Our hope is to rescue patients and save their lives during emergencies.”
The bikers have already tied up with some hospitals in the city area. In Hadapsar, more than 450 doctors and 15 motorbike ambulances will be on duty during Ganeshotsav.
Mayor to welcome eco-friendly Ganesh!
Setting an example, Pune mayor Vaishali Bankar will be bringing home an eco-friendly Ganesh idol for the 10-day festival. Save Pune Initiative conveners Deepak Bidkar and Gauri Bidkar on Monday handed over a letter to Bankar requesting her to bring home eco-friendly Ganesh idol. The mayor agreed to the request and also promised to tell her colleagues in Pune Municipal Corporation to do likewise. The Bidkars said that those who wish to buy eco-friendly idols can log on to their organisation’s website www.e-coexist.com
Children go green, shape idols out of clay
Inspired by the custom of shaping up a Ganpati idol with one hand, worshiping it and immersing it in one and half days, a group of five youngsters held a workshop for children to create their own clay Ganpati idols. The aim was to sensitise young minds towards eco-friendly idols and the magic of creating them.
Kashmira Navale who taught the students said, “As per the mythology, a clay idol of Ganpati has to be created by oneself, worshiped on one hand and then immersed. We thought that we can teach this to children and conducted this workshop at a housing society on Sunday.”
Nearly two dozen students participated in the creative workshop and made idols.
Another youngster of the group Gaurav Rajandekar said that they have formed a group called Hope with an intention to do something for the society.
“We are all management students and want to start an enterprise. We thought mixing with the community through small initiatives will help us know people better,” he said.
Explaining the process of idol-making, Kashmira said, “We first make doughs of equal sizes and give it to each child. We start with shaping the base and slowly go upwards by shaping the idol’s legs, stomach, trunk, ears. As the idol starts building up, the children’s interest rise. Every child then used his own imagination to make it better and finer.”
Children even created decorations like ‘modak’, and thali, while a few made a necklace around their Ganpati, said Kashmira, adding that let the students take their idols home and told them to use eco-friendly colours once the idols were dry.
‘Parthiv is the original concept’
History Scholar Mandar Lavate said, “The concept of Parthiv (made from clay) is found in the mythology. The idol of clay is to be made in the Hindu month of Bhadrapad, worship it on the hand, keep it for 1.5 days and then immerse it. It used to be immersed with 1.5 days as clay, once it dries completely, starts getting cracks. Later Nanasaheb Peshwa started keeping the idol for five days and then in Shaniwarwada, the festival used to be for five to seven days. It was Lokmanya Tilak who made it public for the movement for freedom.
Shadu clay Ganesh idol gets dearer
Bringing home an eco-friendly Ganesh will cost you more this year. Traders said that the cost of Ganesh idols made by using ‘shaadu clay’ has risen by 40% as compared to last year.
But the price hike has not affected the demand as the faithful prefer eco-friendly idols than those made of plaster of Paris (PoP).
Speaking to dna, Grahak Peth executive director Suryakant Pathak said, “The price of shadu clay idols has increased this year and the rates vary depending on the maker, cost of clay, colour and transport etc. Customers who had placed their order early will get the benefit as the price of eco-friendly idols will increase with the festival round the corner.”
“This year we ordered 5,000 idols of Ganesh. At some places the rates increased from 15% to 30%, while some areas observed 40% rise,” he said.
According to the statistics shared by Ganpati idol dealers in Pimpri-Chinchwad and Pune areas, even the demand for idols, especially eco-friendly ones, has risen by almost double this year.
They attributed the rise in price of idols to transport cost required to bring shadu clay, colour from Gujarat and labour charges.
“Schools and several organisations insist the parents to purchase shadu clay idols, “ said a shopkeeper at Nigdi’s Trimurti Ganpati idol dealer.
Pallavi and Prabhakar Sarpotdar, a middle-aged couple who had come to book a Ganesh idol couple in Nigdi told dna, “We spent most of the year abroad. Foreign countries are far stricter than India about environmental issues and hence we are used to taking only eco-friendly idols. We are happy that citizens here are also getting aware about environment.”
Shadu-clay idol 2013 2012
Medium size Rs1,000-1,200 Rs600-700
Small size Rs400-700 Rs200-300
Traffic dept gears up for 10-day festival
With Ganeshotsav round the corner, the Pune city traffic police department is ready with its bandobast measure. More than 1,000 cops will be deployed in different parts of the city to streamline traffic in crowded areas and help those needing medical attention, since getting out of crowded places is a Herculean task.
Deputy commissioner of police (traffic) Vishwas Pandhare said that they have already tied up with 100 doctors and have more than 10 ambulances ready for emergencies during the festival.
Pandhare said, “During Ganeshotsav, the city roads are packed to capacity. Therefore, we have to be on our toes all the time. Our tie-up with doctors with access to oxygen kits and life-saving drugs will help patients to be sent to the nearest hospital with the help of ambulances stationed at the exit points of major roads.”
According to the officer, a disaster management team will work as an emergency task force during any kind of emergency.
“We also require help from citizens as there are over 5,000 Ganpati mandals in the city and it is impossible for us to keep security measures at all the spots. Each mandal should take the initiative and ensure that they are well prepared for any adverse situation,” he said.
Regarding measures to tackle traffic snarls during the festival, he said, “During the last three days of Ganeshotsav, we will be declaring ‘no-parking zone’ in the city areas witnessing heavy traffic.”