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Cabinet takes light of the Pushkarala stampede

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Andhra Pradesh cabinet which met in Rajahmundry for four hours took light of the stampede on the first day of Godavari Pushkaralu. The four-hour long meeting, held in R&B guest house in the city, devoted a just minute silence to pay condolences to those crushed to death in the stampede reportedly caused by the delayed pujas by chief minister a ghat which not designated for VVIPs.

Though chief minister Chandrababu Naidu announced Judicial inquiry into the causes of stampede deaths, the cabinet is said to be in favor of an inquiry by a retired judge. State government is not keen on getting a sitting judge of High Court appointed for inquiry. I &PR minister, Palle Raghuntha Reddy indicated to this effect after cabinet meeting .  This is likely to trigger opposition from opposition parties  as they have been demanding a probe by a sitting judge of the High Court.

The meeting, chaired by the chief minister,  went gaga about greatness of Andhra Pradesh, the resources available and state government’s commitment to build a new capital with international standards. The cabinet decided to send a team to study to beautiful capitals of Central Asia, Astana (Kazakhstan)and Ashgabat (Turkmenistan).

The minister  said Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggested that a team from state should  visit Kazakh and Turkmenistan capitals to study the architectural designs.  Palle said the state government was committed to build the capital with international standards. He said state would call upon Japan and Singapore to participate in the Swiss Challenge model to build the capital.

The cabinet called upon people of the state to celebrate the closing ceremony of Godavari Pushkaralu with state-wide participation in a grand way. The cabinet wants every family in the state to perform “deeparadhana” (lighting of lamp) as part of the Pushkara Jyothi to mark the closing of the Mahapushkaralu.

In a surprise turn, the cabinet fully backed TDP MLA Chintamaneni Prabhakar, who allegedly manhandled MRO Vanajakshi. Giving clean to chit to the MLA, the cabinet felt that the revenue official was at fault in not taking cognizance of the permission to mine the sand and for crossing the boundary of the district.

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Master Plan is Master of Illusion: Roja

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YSR Congress MLA RK Roja said the brouhaha associated with release of master plan of capital Amaravati was only to cover-up the Pushkar tragedy as the Plan has no budgetary support or the mention of Centre’s role and only looks like the promotional brochure.

“The hurried release of Master Plan by airlifting a Singapore Minister is only a diversion Plan and Chandrababu Naidu has been using the publicity machinery to cover up his failures one after the other. To cover-up the cash-for-vote scam, he had planned a grand publicity for Godavari Pushkaram roping in international channels and when it backfired with the tragedy, now he brings in a Singapore Minister by a chartered flight to release a Master Plan of the capital city which is nothing but diversionary tactics,”  Roja told media Tuesday.

The master plan looks like a colorful brochure that realtors release before they sell the flats, and it looks good on paper but where are the budgetary allocations, she asked.

“First Naidu  should make it clear if the Centre has any role to play in the capital formation  and development. The State Reorganisation Act 2014 clearly states that it is the job of the Centre. Why then the Singapore company is roped in it needs to be explained. Singapore is not a charitable institution but a commercial entity and there is no reason as to why it should render free service to Chandrababu Naidu.

Roja also demanded that the Government should also clarify the extent of land  allotted to Singapore company in lieu of the development contract.

“It is more than one year and still there has bee no budget or Centre’s nod . the plan suggests that it takes nearly 35 years for the capital city to be in place  by which time two generations will pass and there is no answer to the farmers’ plight and the jobs and food security,” she added.

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Naidu’s film-craze led to stampede

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Nailing the government’s governmental lies on the Pushkar tragedy, YSR Congress said it was  all chief minister Chandrababu Naidu’s self-promotion craze that led to the stampede at the main ghat of Puskharalu in Rajahmundry on Tuesday.

The presence of  a popular film director  and his filming of  Chief Minister and his family members performing  puja bears testimony to this, the party leader Botsa Satyanarayana said

“Popular film director Boyapati Sreenu (Srinivas) was seen directing the chief minister and his family members at the main Pushkar ghat, where general public were supposed to take the holy dip, and Chandrababu Naidu was posing  to the camera instead of showing the spiritual fervor. It is nothing but mockery of the sacred ritual,” he said.

“The concern of the Chief Minister is only to promote himself as organizer the event grander than that of Kumbha Mela and to show it off to the world though an expensive documentary. He had little concern for the devotees, who were milling and waiting from the early hours to take the holy dip,” he said.

Stating that the publicity mania  of the Chief Minister had taken the lives of over 32 persons, Botsa said  the Collector in his report to the Human Rights Commission had clearly mentioned that the restive crowd could not be managed as the main gate was closed for over two hours and they were let in at once.

“Now people have right to  know  if  a case was filed against the chief minister.  Had the incident occurred while shooting any film, a case would have been be booked against the director, actor and the crew,” he said and demanded that Chandrababu Naidu should quit immediately.

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Rajahmundry Becomes Temporary Capital of AP

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Following the stampede at Kotagummam Pushkar ghat near Rajahmundry on Tuesday, and chief minister Chandrababu Naidu wanting to personally oversee the Pushkara arrangements to avoid the repetition of such  mishap, Rajahmundry has become temporary capital of Andhra Pradesh.

As the chief minister Chandrababu Naidu  will remain there till July 25, entire administration has moved from Hyderabad to Rajahmundry. Already entire cabinet is camping in the city crisscrossing  the city in the name of overseeing the arrangements for  devotees at various ghat.

The chief minister believes that the stampede in which about 30 devotees crushed to death due to lack of proper planing and execution, he announced that he would remain in Rajaymundry till closure of the Pushkaralu.

Yesterday he made lightning visits to some pushkar ghat to see the arrangments and to interact with the devotees.

On Thursday morning, he reviewed the progress of  Polavaram and Pattiseema projects. Tomorrow he is going to Vijayawada to participate in the Iftar party hosted by Andhra Pradesh government.

Similarly, he asked the Singapore exports to come over to Rajahmundry  to present the master plan of the capital city Amaravathi.

Chief secretary IVR Krishna Rao, DGP Venkata Ramudu and other senior officials are operating from Rajahmundry.

So, Naidu is now also planning to hold the cabinet meeting  in Rajahmundry.

The previous cabinet meeting was held on July 4 and reviewd the arrangements for Pushkaras. It is said that CM reportedly expressed displeasure over tarday progress of the works in the meeting. It was in this meeting that that endowments minister Manikyal Rao reportedly told chief minister he was totally out of loop as far as the arrangement were concerned.

It is in this backdrop, Naidu once again wants to review the whole situation in the next cabinet meeting.

Of late, Naidu is holding a cabinet meetings once in fortnight. According to sources in the government, the meeting is likely on  next Tuesday or Wednesday  “The date has not been finalized yet. But, CM is planning to hold the meeting in a couple of days,” sources in the government told Telugu360.com.

 

 

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Why was the main pushkar ghat closed for two and half hours?

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Why was the main pushkar ghat closed for more than two and half hours yesterday in Rajahmundry, minutes before the stampede crushed about 30 people to death?

According to highly placed sources in the government Naidu was busy with National Geographic (NG)which was commissioned to make a documentary on the entire pushkaralu revolving around chief minister Chandrababu Naidu. National Geographic was given contract  for an unknown amount to do the program starting from July 14 to July 25. The NG will produce a 40-minute documentary on the glory of  Godavari  Maha Pushkaralu and it will aired after the closure of the Pushkaralu. Even though the documentary is about Godavari, it would depict  chief minister Naidu as central figure promoting the Telugu culture and marketing  the state abroad to attract the investor towards Andhra Pradesh.Similarly a Telugu director has also been entrusted with the work of making another documentary for state government.

As the inaugural day is  important for the documentary,  NG crew wanted to film the  CMs’ offerings prayers to River Godavari elaborately and it took longer time than expected. The crew  was asked to shoot the chief minister at main ghat as the chief minister’s men expected  more devotees at the ghat which is located nearer to Godavari railway station. So, Naidu was asked to take holy dip at the main Pushkara ghat in stead of the  Saraswati Ghat  designated for VVIPs.

In normal course, the CM’s holy dip should not take more than 30 minutes. As it was not ceremonial but meant for filming for documentary, the pujas have been performed leisurely so that every aspect of chief minister and his family participation recorded in minute detail, said  a senior official from Rajahmundry.

“Since CM was scheduled to visit the main ghat, all gates had been closed from 4. 30 early in the morning. The area was not barricaded because of a laser show organized at that place the previous night in which CM and his family were present. As the laser show went up to  10.30 PM, to facilitate movement of the VVIPs,  barricades were not erected. And devotees from North Coastal Andhra started pouring in large numbers at the venue since midnight. They chose this particular venue as it is located just few meters away from the Godavari railway station,’ the official told Telugu360.com over phone.

All these devotees, the official said, planned to take an early dip in the river so that they could go back the next day.

Naidu’s spin doctors chose this particular ghat  as they wanted NG film how  large crowds keep on waiting  for hours to have a glimpse of chief minister.  Because of this, it is learnt, CM’s advisers are said to have brushed aside the advise of relief commissioner to the chief minister take holy dip in the Saraswati Ghat.

The general impression is that  had chief minister chosen the earmarked ghat, the gory accident would not have taken place.

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Judicial Inquiry Only to Save Naidu: Jagan

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Leader of Opposition YS Jagan Mohan Reddy said the judicial  inquiry ordered by the State was only to cover up the failure and misdemeanor of Chandrababu Naidu for ignoring the VIP ghat and opting for the main ghat to offer Pushkar puja.

“The inquiry is only to save the skin of the Chief Minister and to come out unscathed by making some officials as scapegoats and it serves no purpose. It is obvious that the incident occurred as the devotees were bolted for over three hours and the single entry was opened after Naidu left the spot,” YS Jagan Mohan Reddy said in Kovvur, West Godavari district, on Wednesday.

Had Chandrababu Naidu honored the protocol and took the bath at the VIP ghat the mishap would have been averted he said adding that since  he had ignored it, he should be held responsible for the death of more than 30 persons who died in the stampede.

“When the gates were opened after testing the patience of the devotees for over three hours, the surge was fast and furious and in the melee stampede occurred which claimed over 30 lives. Only Chandrababu Naidu should be blamed for the tragedy,” he said.

Had it been someone else, the person would have been jailed by now. He is directly and indirectly responsible for the deaths, he said.

 

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Sonia Expresses Shock over Stampede

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Congress president smt.Sonia Gandhi expressed shock over human loss in the stampede at Rajahmundry Pushkar Ghat this morning. She inquired about the situation over phone with  APCC president Raghuveera Reddy , former minister Chiranjeevi and Opposition leader in Legislative Council C.Ramachandraiah. She directed the congress cadre to involve in relief activities. She expressed her heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families.

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Judicial Inquiry Ordered into Stampede

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Chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu ordered judicial inquiry into the incident of stampede near a Pushiarala Ghat in Rajahmundry in which 27 devotees perished.

The incident disturbed the sacred fervor of the 12-day pushkaralu.

All opposition parties demanded resignation of chief minister Naidu as he was single handedly overseeing the arrangements of Pushkaralu for over a week.

In the light of widespread criticism, chief minister Naidu ordered Judicial inquiry, said a spokesperson of CMO. Details are awaited.

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President Condoles the Loss of Lives at Pushkaralu

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The President of India Pranab Mukherjee has condoled the loss of lives in a stampede at the Pushkarulu Ghat of Godavari River in Rajahmundry District of Andhra Pradesh.

In his message to E.S.L. Narasimhan, the Governor of Andhra Pradesh, the President has said “I am saddened to learn about the stampede at the Pushkarulu Ghat of Godavari River in Rajahmundry District of Andhra Pradesh, where a number of devotees have lost their lives and many others are injured. I understand relief and rescue operations are currently underway.

“I call upon the State Government and other authorities to provide all possible aid to the bereaved families, who have lost their near and dear ones as well as medical assistance to the injured.

Please convey my heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased. I wish speedy recovery to the injured persons.”

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CM Should Quit on Moral Grounds: Jagan

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Blaming Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu responsible for the stampede in which many devotees were crushed to death at the Pushkar ghat, YSRC president and Opposition leader  Jagan Mohan Reddy demanded he  should quit on moral grounds.

“Though  Saraswathi ghat was reserved for VIPs, Chandrababu Naidu opted to offer puja at the main Pushkar ghat and it was blocked for two-and-a-half hours for the devotees. When the barricades were removed there was sudden surge as the devotees were waiting for long,” he said in Rajahmundry on Tuesday. Upon coming to the news of stampede Jagan immediately rushed to the Rajahmundry.

There was no need for Chandrababu Naidu to be at the pushkar ghat which is meant for general public he said adding that just for the sake of publicity  he opted to offer puja at the main ghat so that he would seen by general public.

With Chief Minister at the main ghat, he said, the officials became over cautious and blocked all the ways as devotees, who came for far of places became restless as it was 2.5 hours after sunrise and there was no let up by the officials.

“Once the barricades were opened they rushed in like a surge resulting in the stampede in which scores are killed and injured,” he said.

“The ordering of a judicial inquiry is just an eye wash. You cannot bring the thousands of visiting devotees as witnesses. Chief Minister should own responsibility and quit,” he said.

 

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Pawan’s Condolences to Stampede Victims

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Janaseana president and movie star Pawan Kalyan expressed condolences to the families of those who perished in the stampede that took place in Rajahmundry this morning.

Pawan Kalyan Tweeted that he was deeply shocked by the gory tragedy.

Though, he wanted to be among these people at this hour of tragedy, he was refraining to rush to the Pushkara town as his presence would dislocated the relief activities, he Tweeted.

Pawan called upon his Janasena volunteers to partake in the activities and extend all the help.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Tragedy Struck AP Pushkaralu: 35 Killed

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Tragedy struck   Godavari Pushkaralu in Andhra Pradesh. On the first day, as pilgrims thronged the pushkar ghat in Rajahmundry in crowds, stampede took place  resulting in the death of 35 people.  The stampede began at 9.30 in the morning. About 60 injured.

There has been  no announcement of death toll officially from the government.

The tragedy exposed the unpreparedness of the government machinery to meet such an eventuality.  Most of the deceased are women.  According to information reaching Hyderabad, death toll is likely to go up.   This happened at the ghat where  chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu was taking  holy dip. CM has been camping at the Rajahmundry and reviewing the arrangement. After the incident, no minister is daring to visit the stampede venue as they fear attack from the angry pilgrims.

While the stampede created disorder, pilgrims complain the disorder at the ghat had resulted in the stampede. Many complain the toll-free service numbers were out of order. In the melee many children are said to have got lost in the crowds.

People said police had started stopping the pilgrims since 4.30 in the morning because of VVIP presence at the Kotagummam Pushkar ghat, the place of the tragedy.

According to  a visitor, the stampede took place because of VVIP menace. ” To allow chief minister take holy dip in Godavari, security personnel closed all gates in the morning. During the interregnum thousands of pilgrims  reached  and gathered at the venue and found no gate was open to them. After some time, when the CM’s offerings were over, the gates were opened for the public. When the officials opened the first gate, all pilgrims, who gathered there in great number, rushed to enter through first gate  leading to stampede” a  visitor told media.

The incident happened on the steps of the ghat leading to the river. When people ran towards ghat, women got stuck and fell on steps. There were crushed to death, officials said.

“Apparently many devotees who reached after night long travel wanted to take holy dip morning. Buth they were stopped  because of VVIP puja as part of the inauguration of Maha Pushkaralu. Sleepless travel coupled with a long-wait since early in the morning might have caused exhaustion. And in the stampede these women were subjected to suffocation causing their death,” an official told Telugu360.com from Rajahmundry control room.

The bodies and the injured rushed to the hospital with great difficulty.

Situation at the hospital in the city is tense with family members crying inconsolably at sudden death of their dear ones.

Officials have identified some bodies. They are Budhavarapu Lakshmi ( Endagandi. E.Godavari),Gorla Gangamma ( Pendurthi ,Visakha),Ratnam (Yanam),Desineni Krishnakumar (Vemagiri. E. Godavari)Paramma ( Badangi, Vizianagara dist),Appalaswamy (Bobbili),Krishnaiah (Yanam),Narsmma (Srikakulam),Venkataiah Naidu Janakamma (Nellore),Parvatamma ( Vizianagaram),K Kalavati (Srikakulam),Paturi Amaravathi(Amudalavalasa),Venkatalakshmi (Rajahmundry) and Narayanamma( Tuni)

Relief commissioner Reddy told Telugu360.com that a woman died while taking dip in river. This, he said, was not related to the stampede.

Rs 10 Lakh Exgratia

CM Cries

Chief minister Chandrababu Naidu announced an exgratia of Rs 10 lakh to the family of those who died in the stampede.

Speaking to the media, the CM said the unfortunate incident took place despite every precautionary measure. Tears welled up from his eyes when he was talking to press people.

He said he would stay put in Rajahmundry till the last day of Pushkaralu.

“Maha Pushkaram will take place till July 25. People can take holy dip in any of these 12 days. I request people not to rush to one single ghat” CM asked the people.

Chief minister Naidu urged the pilgrims to observe restraint as the government was trying to take control of the situation. He said the government would come to the aid of the bereaved families. He promised  all medical help to the injured.

He said the stampede  occurred when all the pilgrims tried to enter from same gate  ie gate one.

Naidu himself is overseeing the arrangements of the Pushkaralu. Al the injured have been shifted to Rajahmundry hospital.

The stampede resulted in traffic jam in the city.   The life in the city has gone haywire. According to pilgrims, the road leading from Bommuru to Rajahmundry has witnessed terrible traffic jam since 8.30 in the morning. No cops were seen there around to clear the  vehicles that stuck in the traffic.

Health minister Kamineni Srinvas visited the hospital and inquired about the treatment being given to the injured.

” The pilgrims reached  in unexpected numbers. And all tried to enter the ghat from the gate  resulted in the stampede. The incident was unfortunate,” the minister said.

Prime Minister Mody Dismayed

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed pain at the loss of lives due to stampede at Rajahmundry. He Tweeted that he spoke to Naidu and said state government was  working to bring normality.The Prime Minister expressed his condolences to the families of the deceased.

KCR Shocked

Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao expressed shock at the stampede that resulted in the scores of death. He expressed condolences to the  bereaved families.

Jagan leaves for Rajahmundry

Opposition leader and YSRC president YS Jagan  left for Rajahmundry from Hyderabad. He expressed shock at the tragedy that struck the Pushkaralu.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

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