Over 35,000 police personnel will be deployed across the city on Tuesday on the occasion of Anant Chaturdashi. The Mumbai Police’s deployment has been scaled down from last year as several large Ganpati pandals, including Lalbaugcha Raja, are not celebrating the festival this year owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Issuing guidelines for the festival, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Monday said the civic body will collect Ganesh idols from the devotees even at natural ‘visarjan’ spots and no one will be allowed to immerse idols on their own to avoid overcrowding. BMC has deployed 23,000 officers and workers across 445 immersion sites to assist the devotees.
Out of the 445 immersion sites, 70 are natural immersion spots while 168 artificial ponds have been created this year, five times more than last year. In addition, there are 37 mobile immersion sites.
The traffic police said that portions of 54 roads leading to beaches and waterfronts will remain closed to traffic and motorists would only be able to travel in one direction on a further 56 roads. Parking will not be allowed on another 99 roads between 11 am on Tuesday and 6 am on Wednesday.
BMC and the traffic police have also identified 13 old, weak and under-repair bridges and railway overbridges which may pose a danger to worshippers. The traffic police have restricted trucks and heavy vehicles from using these bridges and not to congregate on them. The traffic police have advised worshippers to exercise maximum caution while crossing the rail overbridges at Chinchpokhli and Currey Road stations.
Madhukar Pandey, Joint Commissioner of Police, Traffic, said no major traffic diversions will be made on Tuesday. “There has not been much of a turnout on the first, third and seventh days of immersion. Since the size of idols has been capped at four feet and processions have been restricted to ten people, there has been no need to redirect traffic yet. Our force will be out on the streets and we will make decisions as required,” he said.
Mumbai Police , however, urged citizens to immerse idols either at home or at artificial ponds set up by BMC and not crowd beaches. This year’s Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations were subdued as the Maharashtra government banned large processions and forbade the use of music. Children and the elderly are also forbidden from participating in immersion processions.
In the wake of Covid 19 restrictions, people living near the sea — within 1 to 2 km — can visit the natural immersion sites. Others have been asked to use the 168 artificial ponds or the collection units set up in each ward. Seven to eight collection points will be set up in open grounds in each ward. BMC will carry out immersion of the collected idols, in the sea or natural ponds. The civic body has asked residents to perform puja at home and not at the collection sites.
Civic officials said they want residents to use their nearest artificial ponds or mobile immersion sites for ‘visarjan’ with a few people to ensure social distancing.
Personnel from the traffic department, Armed Police, Riot Control Police, the State Reserve Police Force, Rapid Action Force, Quick Response Team and Homeguards will be deputed at each immersion site. Mumbai Police will use its network of over 5,000 CCTV cameras to monitor immersion processions. The police, Indian Coast Guard and Indian Navy will also patrol the shores for any suspicious activities. The police said that wearing masks and maintaining social distancing will be mandatory at immersion points.
The civic body will deploy 636 lifeguards and 65 motor-boats, while 2,717 flood lights have been installed. To treat victims of stingrays, the BMC has also set up 69 temporary first aid units across the beaches.
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