Is Telangana govt risking lives by holding ‘Sunday Funday’, Charminar gatherings?

This Sunday (October 17), the state government plans to hold another big event, which is likely to draw thousands of people to the already crowded Charminar area.

Hyderabad: The ‘Sunday-Funday’ inspired event at Charminar, titled ‘Ek Shaam charminar ke naam’, could prove to be a super spreader event in the coming days. The event comes at a time when the Dussehra vacations have permitted government doctors to go on leave for four days, effectively halting vaccinations also for the same time period, which will also see mass gatherings.

In fact, Telangana’s Municipal Administration and Urban Development has already held three editions of the ‘Sunday Funday’ event, and the crowd is getting considerably larger. Moreover, the Charminar area is already pedestrianised, and the vicinity gets crowded everyday even generally due to the presence of scores of hawkers and the general public thronging the area. A big public event there is going to draw hundreds, or even thousands more to the area.

However, taking into consideration the general crowding at Charminar, is another event like the one at Tank Bund during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic needed? While cases are low, and vaccinations are also happening, the state government may be stretching its luck a little. (It may be noted however that the ‘Sunday Funday’ events, the city police did in fact issued protocols to the public, requesting people to wear masks and maintain social distancing).

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Speaking to about the same, Dr Shamanna, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Hyderabad stated that it would have been wiser to postpone the event. “The state government and the Director of Public health seem to be contradicting each other. The director cautions us about the pandemic while the state government goes ahead with preparations for recreational activities as if there is no virus plaguing us,” he added.

A few days ago, Municipal Administration and Urban Development principal secretary Arvind Kumar tweeted about the preparations for the ‘Sunday Funday’ inspired event in the Charminar area this Sunday (October 16). It was also overseen by Hyderabad Lok Sabha MP Asaduddin Owaisi.

Kumar in his tweet said, “Ek Shaam Charminar ke naam: MP Hyderabad Janaab Asad Owaisi, Commissioner of Police Anjani Kumar & Ahmed Balala visited #Charminar precinct today to finalise arrangements for traffic free & pedestrian friendly program for coming Sunday.Our effort is to make it a pleasant experience for all”.

Dr Shamanna’s remarks are worth noting especially considering the fact that Dr Srinivasa Rao, the director of public health has time and again spoken about how COVID-19 threat still persists in the state.

When asked about the four days leave granted to government doctors in the state on account of Dussehra, a senior government hospital superintendent said that as the vaccination drive in Telangana is moving at a quick pace. “Hence the leave is not unreasonable. However, with the vacation, the state will not witness vaccination against COVID-19 for four days either,” he added.

Dr Shamanna also argued that considering all the upcoming festivals and the lack of COVID-19 protocols being practised, the leave limiting the vaccination is a dangerous precedent. “Momentum is of utmost importance in cases like these,” he added.

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