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Tears rolled down the cheeks of seven year old Avideep. The bubbly young boy was lost among the maze of legs amid chaos and confusion inside the durga puja pandal. He could not locate his parents. People were running all over. They were shouting, a sense of panic written all over their faces. Avideep searched his parents. They were no where around. Fire was all over, in front of him, surrounding him. He felt an unusual warmth on his skin and face. A burning sensation. Avideep turned and ran. He cried and ran, looking for his parents. He tripped and fell. And went blank.
Fire had broken out near the pandal's rear exit and was spreading fast. Avideep's parents, Avishek and Manini were in awe of the majestic pandal when they spotted the fire fast spreading. Avideep had moved a few paces ahead of them. The crowd saw the fire and panicked. There was mad scramble and a mild stampede. desperately Avishek looked around for his wife and son. A surge of maddning crowd took him in a different direction. he tried to get up and push against the flow. He fell. The world spinned around his head and then darkness set in.It was a devastating fire. Hundreds suffered burn injuries. Many got separated from their near and dear ones. The entire pandal was gutted. It was billed as the most glittering and innovative durga puja pandal in the city. The disaster ripped through hopes, aspirations, fun and enjoyment.
But then it was waiting to happen. More than a thousand community puja pandals had paid scant regard to fire and other safety norms. The state government tried to instill a sense of responsibility among puja organisers but it was all in vain. They were not ready to see or face reasons. The state fire service department and Kolkata police and West bengal police were tearing their hairs but ice with the durga puja organisers could not be broken.
A group of youngstars jumped into the fray. They decided to initiate a awareness programme among puja organisers on fire safety measures. Impact sharad Ananda was born. Holding hands with Kolkata police, West Bengal police, Civil defence department and fire service department, Impact gathered a high profile panel of senior IAS, IPS, IRS officers, former judges, celebrities, filmstars, doctors, professionals from various spheres of life. They toured the pre selected puja pandals on three days of the puja to select the top four safest puja pandals.
The winners were given magnificiant trophies and cash awards in a glittering ceremony after the pujas.
It was enough to incentives to puja organisers. They started adopting fire safety measures inside puja pandals. The volunteers started training in tackling fire and handling equipments. The incidents of fire in puja pandals diminished.
Avideep woke up to find men in khakis surrounding him. He was lying on a bench inside the police station. He could hear sighs of relief as he opened his eyes.
His eyes scanned the room for his favourite mom and dad. They were there holding his hands, sitting anxiously near his head.
Two decades have rolled over and seven year old Avideep has grown to be a 27 year old handsome hunk. His job in a multi national company entails him to travel around the globe but he is not willing to give Kolkata a miss during the pujas. He hops through the pandals, friends in tow, and confidant that what he had experienced as a child will never come back. Impact Sharad Ananda has ensured that puja hopping is safer and better in Kolkata.

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