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Govindas get insured but they want more

For the first time in the history of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), its officials implemented a policy last week that will benefit govindas financially, in case of injury.


Pic/Sameer Markande

As per the policy, govindas who sustain injuries during the festival would be entitled to a medical cover of Rs 15,000, while families of those who lose their lives would be given a compensation of Rs 1.5 lakh.

Commenting on the policy, Standing Committee Chairperson Rahul Shewale said, “We have lacked in helping various mandals in the city till now, as there was a delay in framing the insurance policy. But this year we successfully implemented it.

A member of any govinda pathak from the city will be able to avail medical benefits worth Rs 15,000 at any of the civic hospitals. If a person dies, his family would be given a compensation of Rs 1.5 lakh.”

The policy also states that in case of an emergency, the injured could be treated at a private hospital and money spent on treatment can be claimed by submitting medical bills. If the bills cross Rs 15,000, the injured party would have to pay the difference.

While the civic body is willing to cover members of govinda pathaks who come into the city from outside, the policy would not cover members of the pathaks that travel outside the city to break handis.

This decision has irked the govindas. Expressing his grievance against the policy, the secretary of a govinda pathak said, “What is the point in implementing a half-baked policy? Several pathaks from the city try their luck to break handis at places outside city limits, such as Thane and Navi Mumbai. If outsiders coming to the city can be covered, then why not us?”

Lucky to be alive!
People injured during Dahi Handi celebrations recall their trauma

Commenting on the injury he sustained last year, Rajesh Wankhede said, “After my fall, I was disoriented for a few minutes and had no idea how severe the injury was.” Rajesh fractured his left arm after he fell from the third tier of the pyramid. “To make matters worse, the other boys fled.” It was his neighbour who rushed him to Sion Hospital, where he was kept for observation for 10 days. “We had 15 days off from school, so I didn’t have to miss any lectures. I was in terrible pain, though only a minor surgery was performed. I’ll never participate in dahi handi again.”
--Rajesh Wankhede (13), Dharavi 

For 21 year-old Sushant Pawar, a resident of Sion-Koliwada and a driver in the BMC, dahi handi revelry confined him to a hospital bed for almost a month. “Sushant was in the hospital for almost a month. He was lucky that his injury didn’t leave him crippled,” said Tejas Ghasolkar, Pawar’s friend. Pawar was at the base of the pyramid when someone accidentally pushed him while getting down following which he fell on his on his back. “The impact compressed one of the nerves in his neck,” Ghasolkar said, adding Pawar would stay away from this year’s celebrations.
-- Sushant Pawar (21), Sion-Koliwada 

Akshay Jadhav (16), a resident of Kanjurmarg (East), had to pull out from this year’s dahi handi after he sustained injuries during a practice session on August 16. A member of Chhatrapati Shivaji Govinda Pathak, Jadhav said, “I was practising at night and all I remember is that I could barely speak a word after the accident. Initially, I was rushed to a hospital in Mulund and later to Nair Hospital.” Jadhav has injured his jaw. Since Jadhav was injured before the policy came into effect, he is not liable to seek medical benefits.
-- Akshay Jadhav (16), Kanjurmarg

For 18-year-old Karishma Patade, a fall from the second tier almost cost her her career. A resident of Andheri (East) and now a first year commerce student, Patade has been participating in dahi handi for the last four years. “I fell off the second tier and fractured my left hand. The doctors advised me to rest for 45 days. But since I was in Std XII, I had no option but to attend lectures with the broken hand. As I also play kabaddi, I am used to rigorous training sessions. This time our mandal aims at making a seven-tier pyramid, a first for any female troupe in Mumbai.”
-- Karishma Patade (18), Andheri (East)

Murlidhar Nahire was almost rendered paraplegic after a govinda crashed on him, leaving him with serious head injuries. Nahire was standing at the base of the pyramid in Karjat last year. “I felt a jerk while sitting in the car, following which I was left paralysed. I was bedridden for the next six months. I had sustained a spinal cord injury which could have proved fatal.” Dr Sunil Kutty, spine surgeon at Fortis hospital, said Nahire asked them to do their best to save his life as he had three daughters. “Luckily, following surgery and months of physiotherapy, Nahire recovered.” 
-- Murlidhar Nahire (45), Nashik 

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