October 18, 04, The Telegraph


Nine-year-old Arindam Ghosh insisted on taking a joyride on a merry-go-round at a pandal last year.

Minutes into the ride, the bolt of his seat came off and the boy fell in a heap, breaking several of his teeth and sustaining injuries in the head and neck. The joyride turned out to be a tragedy.

Such horrifying experiences, hopefully, will be a thing of the past, thanks to the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), which has come up with a set of guidelines for ride operators.

Every year, close to five million people visit pandals in the city and enjoy rides. At least 1,000 get injured, sparking protests by consumer rights groups, which have been clamouring for more stringent safety norms.

With the BIS taking the lead, the city police announced on Saturday that cops will be posted in every ride zone to ensure that the safety norms are adhered to.

According to the BIS Code of Recommended Practice for Amusement Ride Safety (IS 15475), all rides will have to go through “rigorous quality-control checks” before they are installed in fair grounds.

Wear and tear from constant use, speed control of rides such as a Ferris Wheel (nagordola) and regular verification of gadgets are part of the six-point BIS recommendations.

The BIS has also stressed on proper training of ride operators. “The safety requirements and training of operators comprise a large part of the code of practice. In big fairs, our men will be on constant vigil,” said a senior BIS official.

The police, too, will be at hand to prevent pleasure from turning into sorrow.

“We will take all possible precautions to ensure that the rides do not turn fatal. Extra policemen will be deployed in the pandals to ensure that the operators do not violate the safety norms,” said Sanjay Mukherjee, deputy commissioner of police (headquarters).

Apart from the city police, the Consumer of Unity Trust Society (CUTS) of India will play the role of watchdog.

“A very common phenomenon in the city is to act after an accident. Every year, the government suggests a thorough check of the rides to see whether the gadgets are in good condition,” said Soumi Home Roy of CUTS.

“But the checks are never carried out. So, this move by the BIS is very welcome,” she added.

This year, CUTS representatives will be out in strength to enforce the safety norms.

“Despite the safety bureau pitching in, if we come across a repeat of previous years’ experience, we will take up the matter with the government,” asserted Home Roy.