Here is some news clippings of the time:
5 devotees die in Andhra stampede
Tribune News Service
Hyderabad, August 28
Tragedy struck today, the first day of the Krishna Pushkaram, the river festival celebrated once in 12 years along its course in Andhra Pradesh, when five devotees, including two women and a child, were killed in a stampede at Vijayawada, 275 km from here.
Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, who reacted swiftly by summarily transferring Krishna District Collector Prabhakar Reddy and Vijayawada police Commissioner Krishna Prasad holding them responsible for incident, immediately air dashed to the coastal trading city and reviewed the situation.
Mr Reddy announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh to the family of each of the dead and Rs 10,000 to 14 of the injured devotees, who were admitted to the local Government Hospital, before ordering an inquiry into the incident by a senior official. At least eight other officials of the Irrigation Department were placed under suspension for the incident.
Owning Moral Responsibility
The Hindu, August 28, 2004
VIJAYAWADA, AUG. 28:
The Chief Minister, Y.S.Rajasekhara Reddy, called on members of the bereaved families and the injured persons at the Government General Hospital (GGH) in the city around noon. Stating that the State Government was owning up moral responsibility for the tragedy, Dr. Reddy announced that the Krishna district Collector, K. Prabhakara Reddy, and the Commissioner of Police, T. Krishna Prasad, were transferred. He said they should get relieved within 24 hours.
The Hindu, August 29, 2004
Minister admits lapses
By Our Staff Reporter
VIJAYAWADA, AUG. 29. The Government on Sunday admitted loopholes in the Pushkaram works which led to the stampede near the apron downstream the Krishna barrage killing four persons.
Speaking to reporters after inspecting the ghats and reviewing the works, the Minister for Roads and Buildings, Jakkampudi Ramamohan Rao, admitted that lack of co-ordination among various departments had led to a messy situation.
August 29, 2004, The Hindu
Probe sought into Pushkaram works
By Our Special Correspondent
HYDERABAD, AUG. 29. The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), on Sunday sought a judicial probe into the works executed for the Krishna Pushkarams, which they alleged were “sub-standard” and involved corrupt practices.
At separate press conferences, the TDP leader, N. Janardhan Reddy, and the BJP leaders – B. Dattatreya and K. Laxman — lambasted the State Government for failing to make proper arrangements for the Pushkarams and wanted that adequate facilities be provided to pilgrims. The BJP wanted the judicial probe to also cover the tragedy at Vijayawada, which claimed five lives.
Urging the Government to ensure that no more untoward incidents occurred, the leaders of both parties criticised the Chief Minister, Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, for blaming officials for the tragedy and said he should own up responsibility.
Lack of seriousness
Mr. Dattatreya and Dr. Laxman accused the Congress Government of not taking the mega event seriously. They alleged that only 50 per cent of the arrangements were completed at some places and 25 per cent at others. The Government released funds in July end and allotted works on a nomination basis.
The BJP leaders also alleged that Dr. Reddy never monitored the arrangements though seven to eight departments were involved, while the Endowments Minister, M. Satyanarayana Rao, confined himself to “merely issuing statements.”
They termed the transfers of the Vijayawada Police Commissioner, T. Krishna Prasad, and the Krishna district Collector, K. Prabhakara Reddy, eyewash.