Hyderabad: Amidst rising concerns unleashed by the Omicron variant, the Exhibition Society has decided to go ahead with the annual Numaish. It has taken 'abundant precautions' to overcome the effects of the new variant.

A two-fold strategy is being adopted to tackle the highly transmissible variant. The Exhibition Society has planned to sanitize the entire campus spread over 20 acres in order to allay the apprehensions being voiced in different quarters in the wake of mounting Omicron cases. The GHMC has been requested to deploy its sanitization truck to spray disinfectants every day to combat the variant of concern.

This apart, a vaccination station is also being set up in the premises under the purview of the district medical and health officer. It will work from 4 p.m to 6 p.m every day. Visitors who have not taken the vaccine can avail the facility. "For stall holders, we are insisting on vaccination certificates before issuing ID cards," said Aditya Margam, honorary secretary, Exhibition Society.

For the first time, the exhibition authorities are ushering in the event in a low-key fashion. The press meet held every year to announce the details of the Industrial Exhibition is being eschewed. The Society members are busy securing a string of clearances and permissions for the upcoming event. Again, for the first time, Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan will declare open Numaish. Despite her scheduled programme in Pondicherry, she has agreed to inaugurate the 46-day All India Industrial Exhibition on Saturday at 5 p.m.

In its long history, the Industrial Exhibition could not take place only on two occasions. During 1947-48, Numaish could not be organized following events leading to the merger of the Hyderabad state with the Indian Union and in 2021 it was not held in view of the rising COVID-19 cases. The Exhibition Society suffered a loss of nearly Rs. 12 crore for not conducting the event last year. But despite this, there is no upward revision in the entry fee to the exhibition this year. It continues to be just Rs. 30 on all days. For children below five years, entry is free.

"We do not want to pinch visitors by raising the entry ticket prices," says Mr. Margam.

He gets upset when asked about the precautionary measures taken in the wake of the pandemic. "Why do you single out the Exhibition Society alone? What about Shilparamam and the festival mela held at Parade Ground? No such measures are taken there like we are taking now," he remarks.

In order to maintain physical distance between stalls at the Exhibition Grounds, authorities have reduced 200 stalls this year. The stalls now occupy only six acres while 14 acres is an open area. There are lawns, lung space and wide walkways. Moreover, there is a continuous flow of people at Numaish. "Visitors come and go," says Mr. Margam by way of allaying fears.

J.S. Ifthekhar

J.S. Ifthekhar is a senior journalist with nearly four decades of experience. Ifthekhar cut his teeth in journalism at the Indian Express before he moved to The Hindu. He was also associated with the Siasat Daily, Telangana Today, Deccan Chronicle, Onlooker magazine, Newstrack, Detective Digest and a few news agencies. He has written on different subjects and aspects of Hyderabadi life. However, his passion remains literature in general and Urdu poetry in particular. He is equally concerned with culture, heritage, civic affairs and problems confronting the man in the street. As a journalist he has taken up cudgels on behalf of the underprivileged and many of his stories in The Hindu saw the government promptly taking corrective measures. Ifthekhar has authored two books - Hyderabad - The Nawabi City on The Move and Haj - The Spirit Behind it. He has also translated two books from Urdu to English. His third book - Urdu Poets and Writers , Gems of Deccan  - is just released. Loves to write and writes to live. Can't imagine doing anything else.

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