February 24, 2024

HPAS/Allied Mains 2022 Answer Writing Challenge Day 56 : Model Answer

QUESTION What  are  the  causes  for  occurrence  of  frequent  stampedes  at  various  public  places  in  India?  What steps  can  be deployed  to effectively  check  such  events?  Discuss  in  context of the  guidelines  issued by NDMA on this issue. (20 marks 400 words)


DIRECTIVE:  List the reasons for frequent stampedes in India.  Discuss steps which may be taken as outlined in NDMA guidelines. 
IntroductionAccording to the National Crime Records Bureau figures, from 2000 to 2013, almost 2,000 people died in stampedes  in  India.  For instance  stampede  occurred  in  2008  at  Naina  Devi  in  Himachal  Pradesh  (killing more than 100 pilgrims), in 2011 during Makara Jyothi Day at Sabarimala in Kerala, in 2013 at Allahabad railway station during Kumbh Mela etc.  A  2013  study  published  by International  Journal  of  Disaster  Risk  Reduction  (IJDRR) points  out  that religious gatherings and pilgrimages have been venues for 79% of the stampedes in India. Deaths from stampedes occur primarily from compressive asphyxiation, not trampling.  Accommodating nature of Indian people unlike the west, location of functions at infrastructure-deficient places (banks of rivers, hilly terrains or mountain tops etc.) , lack of  proper crowd management system, lack  of  coordination  among  various  agencies  etc.  are  some  of  the  major  causes  of  stampede  related disasters in India. 
Main Body The surge of individuals in a crowd leading to stampede, is caused in response to a perceived danger or loss  of  physical  space.  It  often  disrupts  the  orderly  movement  of  crowds  resulting  in  irrational  and dangerous  movement  for  self-protection,  leading  to  injuries  and  fatalities.  In  such  cases,  mostly  the trigger  is  psychological—such  as  a  rumour  spreading  through  the  crowd,  or  a  loud  noise or  one  person slipping.    Lack  of  physical  infrastructure  compounds  the  mob  behaviour  and  increases  the  sense  of threat.


Broad principles on which NDMA guidelines are based upon include

ü  Risk  Analysis  and  planning should  be  the  first  step  as  disasters  may  be  prevented  through  careful identification of cause/threats. It is recommended that all event organizers should conduct Failure Mode and  Effect  Analysis  (FMEA).It  involves  rating  every  possible  hazard  on  the  dimensions  of  severity, frequency of occurrence and difficulty of detection.

ü  Information management dissemination is also crucial. The absence or poor information management in itself may  be  a  source of  crowding.  A robust  information management  system  is  critical  in  all  situations viz.  normal,  disaster/emergency  and  disaster  recovery.  Similarly timely  information  exchange  between various stakeholders viz. event management, government administration, NGOs, media etc. is critical. Further, according to NDMA guidelines, the various elements of crowd management strategy includes:

§  Capacity  planning  (long  term  and short  term) – It  emphasizes  the  need  to  develop  infrastructure based  on  popularity,  periodicity  of  the  event,  weather,  terrain  and  local  population.  For  example erecting  barriers,  medical  booths,  traffic  management  infrastructure  etc.  Multiple  routes  should  be encouraged  (normal,  express  and  emergency);  access  routes  should  be  made  safe  from  natural disasters like landslides etc.

§  Understanding  crowd  behaviour-Individual  behaviour  in  a  crowd  is  sometimes  influenced  by behaviour  of  others.  The  unlawful  actions  of  a  few  people  can  result  in  a  larger  numbers  following them.  Research  has  showed  that  understanding  crowd  behaviour  has  led  to  community  based approach  to  crowd  control  instead  of  fore  based  control.  Inappropriate  or  poorly  managed  control procedures may  precipitate  crowd  incidents  rather  than  preventing  them.  For  example,  police reacting to a group of unruly people may chase them in a direction opposite to the incoming crowd, which may create collision, and hence a disaster.

§  Crowd  control-The  guiding principle  for  crowd  control  should  be  managing  demand-supply  gap through- controlling  the  crowd  inflow,  regulating  the  crowd  at  venue  and  controlling  the  outflow  if needed.  Separation  of  in-gate  and  out-gate,  preferably  in  separate  directions  and  separating  the incoming and outgoing crowd.

§  Stakeholder approach-organizers/law  enforcement  agencies  must  encourage  community stakeholders  (NGOs,  Business  Associations,  Schools/Colleges,  neighbourhoods,  societies.  Mohall committees  etc.)  to take  ownership  in  events to  uphold  unity  of  purpose,  faster  decision/response, better  coordination  etc.

ConclusionA unified  control  structure  is  recommended  as  it  fixes  the roles  and responsibilities of various stakeholders and enhances coordination between them. 
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