GEARING up for the challenging task of supervising Ganesh festival in the city during a raging pandemic, Pune City Police has said its key focus will be to ensure there is no crowding anywhere. Close to 6,000 personnel and officers, two thirds of the force’s total strength, will be deployed across the city.
However, a slight force depletion due to Covid-19 cases among personnel may pose a challenge for festival-related deployment this year, said officials of Pune police.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) for Pune City, Ravindra Shisve, told The Indian Express, “The main focus of our deployment during Ganesh festival will be to avoid any type of crowding and make sure that all safety norms are adhered to meticulously. There will be fixed-point deployment and mobile patrolling teams. Ganesh mandals have been given a clear direction for various activities. For individual households celebrating the festival, we urge that all the norms be followed at all times. Between 5,500 to 6,000 personnel and officers will be part of the round-the-clock deployment. We are facing some force depletion due to Covid-19 cases among police personnel, but we want to assure that police are fully prepared for smooth conduct of the festival during these testing times.”
Till now, 630 cases have been reported among the 9000-strong Pune City Police. Of these, over 150 have been able to resume duty while others are under treatment or are completing the mandatory isolation period. A significant number of personnel are in home quarantine on the account of being high-risk contacts of those who have tested positive.
Officials also said that this year, Pune Police will not get the additional strength allocated by Maharashtra Police for Ganesh festival deployment, which has been the case in the past. This is going to put additional pressure on the already-depleted police force, they said. Personnel from various branches of the police commissionerate will be allocated to individual zones for deployment, said a senior officer.
Muharram will be observed on August 29 this year, and city police said adequate force has been allocated across the city to ensure physical distancing and safety norms are followed that day.
Pune City Police had earlier issued a Model Code of Conduct for Ganesh mandals, comprising guidelines for activities like purchase and installation of idols, pooja and darshan rituals at the pandal premises, Covid safety arrangements at the pandals and the immersion ritual. No Ganesh mandals are being allowed to set up pandals in containment zones, and processions have been prohibited across the city.
Only up to five persons will be allowed to be present for any ritual at the pandal premises. The visit of devotees to pandal premises has to be restricted through the online token systems and no celebrities or VIPs should be invited to pandal premises, so as to avoid large gatherings. To avoid crowding, the PMC has announced that neither will immersion activities be allowed at the river fronts, nor will tanks be installed for it.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines