On Makar Sankranti, More Than 20 Lakh Devotees Take Dip In Ganga Sagar

| January 14 , 2018 , 12:35 IST

On the occasion of Makar Sankranti, nearly 20 lakh devotees from across the country, as well as from Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh gathered to take a holy dip at the confluence of the River Ganga and Bay of Bengal in Kolkata known as Ganga Sagar on Sunday.

The Ganga Sagar Mela, organised around the festival of Makar Sankranti in West Bengal, witnessed an increase of 5 lakh visitors this year, as compared to last year when 15 lakh devotees attended.

"Last year, around 15 lakh pilgrims had visited the Ganga Sagar. This year already we have crossed that mark and nearly 20 lakh people are here. We have made all arrangements for them so that they can have a memorable outing here," South 24 Parganas district magistrate Y Ratnakara Rao said.

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Extensive security protocols have been put in place, with 3,000 policemen being deployed by the state government, along with 7 drones to monitor the security. The government officials have been equipped with satellite phones to ensure uninterrupted connectivity during the Mela.

"These satellite phones will ensure that communication is not hampered even if there is an earthquake or a tsunami, among other things," a senior official of the state government said. 

In addition, the state government has installed 500 CCTV cameras and introduced a real-time monitoring system called as 'Tirtha Sathi'.

"Using the Tirtha Sathi, senior administrative and police officers will be able to watch live footages of all transit and other crucial points, relayed via CCTV cameras, on their mobile phones," South 24 Parganas district magistrate Rao said.

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Two battalions of the NDRF have also been deployed in the Ganga Sagar.

"This year, a total of 85 personnel of 2 BN NDRF are deployed at three different places. One team is deployed at Lot 8, one deployed at Kachuberia and one at Sagar. Each team is well equipped with inflatable boats, deep diving sets, deep divers and flood rescue equipment," battalion commandant Nishith Upadhyay said in a statement.

Due to the large scale celebrations of the annual Ganga Sagar Mela, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has in the past said that it should be treated at par with the famous Kumbh Mela.