Skywalk for Mahalaxmi temple to avoid stampede


Skywalk for Mahalaxmi temple to avoid stampede :

Devotees’ safety or environmental heritage, it is a tough choice that Mahalaxmi temple authorities and civic officials have to make.

To deal with the growing number of devotees every year, the Mahalaxmi Temple Charitable Trust wants a permanent skywalk, apart from the existing one, to avoid undue incidents like stampedes. However, since the temple is located near the sea, they have not got the clearance from the environmental department for a long time now.

“At present, there is only one narrow road for entry and exit. With the increasing number of devotees, there is a need for one more road. We have wanted to construct a permanent skywalk which directly reaches the temple premises since a long time now. However, we have not got the necessary environmental clearance,” said SV Padhye, manager of Mahalaxmi Temple Charitable Trust.

Guardian minister Jayant Patil visited the temple on Wednesday along with senior civic officials, officers from the police department, trust members and discussed various issues regarding development of the temple.

“We raised the issue again during Patil’s visit and he assured that he will look into the matter. Since the temple is a heritage structure we can’t widen the road which is currently being used. We urge civic authorities and the state government to consider our proposal for a new skywalk,” said Padhye.

With the Navratri festival around the corner, the trust is not taking any security chances. The temple authorities have installed more than 50 CCTV cameras on the premises before the nine-day festival, which begins from October 16.

This year, the trust has decided to ban sacks, laptop bags which devotees carry inside.

Two years ago, they had banned metal plates that were used to carry offerings such as garlands, coconuts and prasad. “This year we have beefed up security around the entire premise. We appeal to devotees to not bring bags into the temple. We had a meeting with the police on security issues and according to their suggestions we have made the changes. Every devotee will have to pass through a metal detector,” added Padhye.

The Mahalaxmi Temple is one of the most famous temples in Mumbai on Bhulabhai Desai Road. Getting a glimpse of the deity has never been an easy task with devotees having to queue up for hours. Every year, around seven lakh people visit the temple during Navratri.

“From a security point of view, there is need for one more road for the devotees. We have suggested some measures to the trust to ensure that proper arrangements are made for devotees,” said Pradip Lonandkar, senior police inspector, Gamdevi police station.

The temple falls under the jurisdiction of the Gamdevi police station.