The longest day of the year in 2016 just got longer for the officials of the union territory of Chandigarh.
For nearly a fortnight now, they have been holding daily meetings, and the exercise is likely to continue till the grand programme for International Yoga Day begins on June 21, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lead a massive display of yoga asanas in the city.
Administration officials are faced with the tough task of preparing for a gathering of at least 30,000 participants, although they are aiming for a crowd of 50,000 to set a new world record. A similar event held in 2015 at Raj Path, with 35,985 participants, had made it to the Guinness World Records.
The AYUSH ministry is funding the event with a grant of Rs 8 crore and the Chandigarh administration is organising the massive event in collaboration with the Punjab and Haryana governments. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) runs a coalition government in Punjab with SAD, while the party wrested power for the first time in Haryana in 2014.
|International Day of Yoga, 2015 at Raj Path had created a world record with 35,985 participants.
With the PM himself leading the show and the world watching, the administration is leaving no stone unturned in making it a huge success. AYUSH ministry officials are working in tandem to ensure there is no repeat of the criticism they received for their handling of some aspects of International Yoga Day 2015.
Thus, special care is being taken to ensure that the 30,000 yoga mats are "Made in India" and not "Made in China", as was the case last year.
It has also been decided to encourage participants to take the government provided yoga mats home after the event. Tenders are being floated for 30,000 mats, t-shirts, ang vastaras, 1.25 lakh water bottles - all made in India.
A condition in the tender floated for the items clearly states: "All the items such as T shirts, yoga mat, green mat, banners, water bottles, ang vastaras, bags etc. shall be made in India and the agency shall have to give certification on this account."
The administration is also tasked to arrange 300 toilets, 100 ushers, an equal number of guards and 40 LED screens over an area of 12 lakh square feet, which would be covered with soft green coloured carpet measuring ten lakh square feet.
Besides the AYUSH department officials, Special Protection Group (SPG) commandoes are breathing down the necks of Chandigarh administration. This is not surprising as the PM himself is performing asanas on the Rs 70 lakh stage with 20 other participants.
A major task for the officials was to find an appropriate venue for the event. The Capitol Complex, comprising the secretariat, Assembly and the high court buildings, and the sprawling botanical garden on the outskirts of the city, were shortlisted as probable sites.
Finally the SPG, the Centre as well as the administration decided to organise it in the Capitol Complex designed by city's architech, Le Corbusier. It is the same venue where Modi had hosted French president Francois Hollande earlier this year.
Interestingly, till last year, the Capitol Complex, which also bears the open hand symbol of the city, was barred for visitors due to "security reasons". This was done several years after the end of militancy at the whim of some officials. Even now, visitors seek special permission to visit the complex.
With the sprawling piazza, which connects the Assembly building with the high court building, restricted to visitors, a group of lawyers had carved out a cricket pitch for playing the sport within the complex. It was with much difficulty that the cricket pitch was removed a couple of years ago.
The preparation for the mega event has required so much of the Chandigarh administration's attention that all other official work has been relegated to the background. Officials are postponing meetings and putting off projects till the end of the yoga event.
Among other preparations, the administration is training thousands of students and employees for the event. Special yoga camps are being organised in schools and colleges. A special camp has also been organised for the differently-abled.
From the looks of it, everyone would be looking forward to shavasana after the event.