In a world of uncertainty, security comes at a price, as any insurance policy holder would tell you.
And at popular festivals like Ganeshotsav that attracts lakhs of devotees, insurance cover is a must according to some.
However, insuring the Ganesh pandals and jewellery may not be enough, so for the first time, a demand has been made to insure devotees who come for idol immersion at 84 locations in Mumbai.
Last week, the Ganeshotsav Samanvay Samiti, which represents all Ganesh mandals in the city, wrote to the chief minister and the mayor, demanding insurance of Rs 50 lakh to cover the lakhs of devotees who turn up at immersion points across the city. This, they say will cover against deaths or injuries at the immersion points.
Citing an incident in the past, when a 23-year-old man was electrocuted in a mobile toilet at Girgaum Chowpatty during Ganesh immersion in 2010, the Samiti has asked for insurance cover at immersion spots as well.
“Lakhs of devotees throng at immersion spots and there are times when people drown when they enter the water for idol immersion. In the past, a boy was electrocuted. Hence, to protect the devotees, we have demanded the insurance cover of Rs 50 lakh from the city mayor and from the CM. We hope a grant of the same is made by the government,” said Naresh Dahibawkar, secretary Ganeshotsav Samanvay Samiti.
Ganesh Mandals in the state have already insured their mandals for crores of rupees, which is valid till the idol goes for immersion. The policy also covers the jewellery adorning the deity and devotees coming for darshan as well as the pandal itself. “Crowds not only gather at mandals, but also at immersion spots. Hence, it is very important that the insurance cover should also extend to devotees who assemble at the immersion spots,” Dahibawkar said.
When contacted, Mayor Sunil Prabhu confirmed that he received a letter from the Samiti. “I have asked my finance team to look into the matter. A chartered accountant is already studying the possibilities, after which we will be able to comment,” said Prabhu.
Dr Rehman Mahaldar (85), who has been a medical officer with the BMC and has been treating those injured during immersions, welcomed the move. “This is a very good initiative. Insurance cover is a must, as there are many cases of drowning reported during immersions, and if such an untoward situation takes place, the families should be compensated,” said Mahaldar.
Pilgrimage places such as Vaishnodevi temple in Jammu and Kashmir, Tirupathi Devasthanam in Andhra Pradesh and the Meenakshi temple in Madurai have all opted for insurance against terror attacks After the 2002 terror attack on the Akshardham temple in Gujarat, many other temples scrambled to avail insurance cover.
Did you know?
GSB mandal at King's Circle, insured its pandal and devotees with a multi-crore cover last year; while Lalbaugcha Raja was insured at Rs 14 crore.