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