MUMBAI: The three-day Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Science and Technology Expo at Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI) in Matunga had to be called off on Saturday due to overcrowding. The authorities of the institute feared a stampede-like situation and decided to call off the event.
“We asked people to register online and got only 13,000 registrations. However, on Saturday, more than 50,000 people visited the expo,” announced a VGTI official over a public address system. “Schools registered a name but brought buses full of children. We received unexpected response and were unable to handle such a crowd. We apologize for the inconvenience to the public, but due to the stampede situation we have to close the exhibition today (February 25) and tomorrow (February 26).”
Parents unhappy with the decision
Meanwhile, several people who came from far and wide were unhappy as they could not get a glimpse of the exhibition.
“I came from Ambernath with small children and relatives so that they could develop interest in subjects like space, ISRO and science as well as interact with scientists who were supposed to be at the exhibition,” said Shahida Sheikh, who registered. Obtain a slot for viewing events and exhibitions. “I also had a gate pass, but still they didn’t allow us. Children skip school to watch the event. I am totally shocked by the way they have taken this decision without thinking of anyone.”
The institute’s authorities should have at least allowed people to complete a registration on their website, he said, adding, “The event was promoted through WhatsApp and so the authorities should have prepared for the huge crowd.”
Reena More, another visitor from Andheri, was stopped at the gate. He wanted his daughter to learn about space and science. “They were going to guide about careers in ISRO, show launch vehicles and satellite models, show humanoid robots and also show smart space robots. We came to show my daughter space. Unfortunately, they didn’t let us in,” added.
“We were very excited about the Expo. My daughter studies in Sr. Kg. Such exhibitions are rare in Mumbai. This happened after five years in the city. They should have handled it well,” said Harshad Kambli, who came to the expo from Kamothe, Navi Mumbai. “It’s very sad that they shut it down in such a hurry.”
He added that people came from Sangli, Pune and Aurangabad with their children.
Tough job for the police
The expo, called Techno Vanja, started on February 24 and is expected to continue till February 26.
However, after the overwhelming crowd on Saturday, the Matunga police responded immediately and deployed additional forces at the venue.
“We already have 30 HSC examination centers and have deployed Bandobust outside the colleges for this. From Friday, we posted our people outside VJTI as well. On Saturday morning, the crowd started growing and the entire college was surrounded by people from Mumbai and other parts of the state. The entire Nathalal Parekh Marg was crowded with people. We have posted all our people including SRPF outside the college. Finally, after a meeting with the college, it was decided to call off the event to avoid any untoward incident,” said Deepak Chavan, senior police inspector, Matunga police station.
“We had a tough job persuading the crowd as people kept coming. Everyone wanted to get in and try to negotiate with us,” said a policeman posted outside the college.
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