At least 11 die of sunstroke at Amit Shah's Maharashtra Bhushan award event

The crowd at the presentation of Maharashtra Bhushan Award 2022 to social worker and reformer 'Nirupankar' Dattatreya Narayan Dharmadhikari, known as Appasaheb Dharmadhikari, in Kharghar on Sunday. Photo: PTI

Mumbai: The 'Maharashtra Bhushan' award event in Navi Mumbai on Sunday turned tragic with the death of at least 11 people apparently due to sunstroke as the function, attended by lakhs, was held in an open ground.

The function held in Kharghar area in Raigad district neighbouring Mumbai was attended by Union home minister Amit Shah who conferred the award on spiritual leader and social reformer Appasaheb Dharmadhikari.

A police official said a couple of patients are on ventilator support at hospitals in Navi Mumbai and Panvel city and their condition is being monitored.

"At least 11 deaths apparently due to sunstroke have been confirmed," the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) said in a release on Sunday night.

The police official said some patients were discharged after recovery, while some remain admitted in hospitals and are under observation.

Before the CMO release, Shinde had told reporters outside a hospital in Navi Mumbai that at least 50 people were admitted there out of which 24 are still hospitalised while the rest have been discharged after primary treatment. He termed the deaths "very unfortunate".

The nearest weather station to the spot of the event recorded a maximum temperature of 38 degrees Celsius.

Shinde said the kin of the deceased will be given a compensation of Rs 5 lakh. "Medical treatment of the people under treatment due to sunstroke will be free. The state will pay from its coffers for their treatment," he said. Lakhs of people had come for the event.

The Chief Minister also directed officials to shift patients to specialised hospitals if they needed additional treatment.

Replying to a question, Shinde said he would not comment on political allegations of the Opposition and his priority is to ensure that the affected people get proper treatment.

He said a Deputy Municipal Commissioner-rank official of the Panvel Municipal Corporation has been deputed to coordinate with relatives of patients and medical teams and to give timely updates.

"Lakhs of people had come for the event and it went well. It is painful to see some of them suffer. It is a very unfortunate situation which is very painful for me," he said.

Dharmadhikari has a massive following in the state due to his tree plantation drives, blood donation and medical camps as well as de-addiction work in tribal areas.

The 306-acre ground, where the function was held, was packed with people and equipped with audio/video facilities for followers of Shree Sadasya (Dharmadhikari's organisation) to witness the function.

Amit Shah conferred the award to Dharmadhikari and presented him a shawl, a citation and memento and a cheque of Rs 25 lakh, besides a 10-feet garland of roses.

Chief Minister Shinde, his deputy Devendra Fadnavis and Union minister Kapil Patil among MLAs, MLCs, and ministers were present on the occasion.

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