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Pune bikers to turn their rides into ambulances for warkaris

When the palkhi arrives in the city on Saturday, some 100 bikers will station themselves along its route to rush participants to ambulances, hospitals in case of medical crises

This Saturday, the beats of mrudung and taal in the city might be remixed with the brass of high-power engines, as the Pandharpur wari procession weaves its way through the city, flanked by a city-based bikers group.

The palkhis of both Sant Dnyaneshwar and Sant Tukaram will arrive in the city on June 21
The palkhis of both Sant Dnyaneshwar and Sant Tukaram will arrive in the city on June 21. File pic for Representation

More than hundred members of the group have offered to assist the warkaris or palkhi participants in case of emergencies, such as rushing people to hospitals for first aid, should anything happen on the procession’s route from Alandi to Dehu to Pune.

The project is an initiative of the Pune regional transport office’s street sense programme. The bike ambulances, equipped with first-aid kits and trained doctors, will be stationed at various spots on the wari route. If a patient requires further treatment, they will be rushed to regular ambulances stationed at the exit points.

Deputy regional transport officer, Anil Valiv, said, “It is not possible for an ambulance to make its way through the overcrowded streets. So we are planning to have motorbike ambulances. We have got the district collector’s approval.

The bikes will have a basic first-aid kit attached in addition to an emergency kit. There will aalso be a doctor to treat patients. All the bikers will be given a hands-free device to coordinate with the ambulance, which will guide them to the nearest exit point.” The 1,000-year-old tradition will thus have the services of handy two-wheeler ambulances.

One of the members of the biker group, Sangram Devkar, said, “We will be working in two shifts, so that at any given point of time a minimum of 50 bikers are there to help the warkaris. Our plan is to go from Alandi to Saswad, and we have tied up with doctors who will be there with us during the three days of the palkhi.”

The palkhis of both Sant Dnyaneshwar and Sant Tukaram will arrive in the city on June 21, and will stay for a couple of days. On June 23, that is Monday, the waris will journey further. The Dnyaneshwar procession will go all the way to Saswad through Dive Ghat, and the Tukaram palkhi will take the Pune-Solapur highway to reach Pandharpur on July 9, for the blessings of Lord Vitthal.

Wari: security to be beefed up

The police will keep a close watch on the wari procession through CCTV cameras and a mobile police control room, which will accompany the procession throughout, said Superintendent of Police (Pune Rural) Manojkumar Lohiya. The warkaris can contact this control room in case of any problem, he said. Along with Lohiya, two additional SPs, 30 inspectors, 69 assistant inspectors, 706 personnel, 120 traffic police, 1,100 Home Guards, and a company of the State Reserve Police Force will be deployed.

Mind the traffic
The Tukaram palkhi will start from Dehu on Thursday and the Dnyaneshwar palkhi will start from Alandi on Friday; both will halt in the city on June 21 and 22, and proceed to Pandharpur on June 23. Since the road from Saswad to Hadapsar will be closed from 3 am Monday, citizens should use other routes. 

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