Wednesday, April 14

At 3.5 million pilgrims, Gangasagar records highest-ever footfall on Makar Sankranti

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Over 3.5 million pilgrims took holy dip at Gangasagar,150km south of Kolkata, on Makar Sankranti. The pilgrim count surpassed last year’s 3.3 million pilgrims, which was an all-time record for Sagar Mela.

“More and more pilgrims are coming to Sagar because of the superior arrangements made by our government and good weather,” said public health engineering minister Subrata Muherjee. The state government has developed a seamless mela management system with a perfect blend of technology and coordination, added Mukherjee.

The mela ground is under roundthe-clock surveillance through 800 CCTVs, 20 drones and helium balloons with cameras. So far, there has not been a single incident of fire or accident, said a South 24 Parganas district official.

Even before her visit to the Sagar Island, chief minister Mamata Banerjee set the tone of preparedness. “The CM told us to take all necessary measures so that pilgrims don’t face trouble during their visit. This is why the district magistrate and the SP jointly briefed the entire workforce on the job at Sagar,” said a government official. Around 11,000 toilets and 300 portable toilets have been installed for the mela.

Thus, we put Tirtha Sathi, a real-time mega surveillance system, in place. A 24×7 surveillance team has also been formed to keep an eye on the 50 LED screens that project live video from the cameras on the ground. “The real-time surveillance helped in displaying vessel schedules on electronic boards and also take safety precautions before tides,” said South 24-Parganas district magistrate Ratnakar Rao.

To maintain the seamless connectivity, the state government has created 15 WiFi circles in collaboration with BSNL. Apart from this, four automated weather stations have been installed at strategic locations.

Security arrangements have been beefed up in the area by the state government as well as the Indian Coast Guard and the Navy. Two hovercraft and one Dornier helicopter have been posted for the protection of pilgrims.

Source: Times of India

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