Kolkata (West Bengal) [India] (ANI): After the Calcutta High Court gave the go-ahead to organise the Ganga Sagar Mela, on Wednesday it commenced with strict COVID-19 protocols. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee inaugurated the Ganga Sagar Mela, which is held annually at Gangasagar in West Bengal.
Speaking to ANI, South 24 Parganas District Magistrate Dr P Ulganathan said that Ganga Sagar Mela has been organised as compared to those organised during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Gangasagar Mela is the biggest fair in the Eastern part of India. Here every year lakhs of devotees and sadhus come. But this time due to COVID-19, all our preparations have become complicated and a lot of extra preparation had to be done. We have made a massive arrangement for COVID management, in all the entry points. We are doing medical screening at every entry point and have made many such arrangements which range from thermal checking to sanitization. We are also doing rapid antigen tests of pilgrims and sadhus coming to the Mela. In all the buses arranged, more than 50 per cent of the capacity people are not being brought,” said Ulganathan.
He further said that the water ambulance and air ambulance is also available on the ground for COVID infected people. Random testing is being done to not know whether people are infected or not, he added.
“We have done deployed doctors, police and volunteers at the mass level. We were able to manage all the people who are coming here,” he said.
He further said that all the activities of the Mela are being monitored from the Mega Control Room. CCTV cameras and drones are being used to keep an eye on each and every activity of the Mela.
“CCTV cameras, drones are installed, an integrated control room has been set up but police, civil defence, civil administration all can see them. Monitoring is also being done from State Secretariat Nabanna. Complete monitoring is being done at senior officer IG, DG and Chief Secretary level. Chief Minister has come here and gone after doing a complete review. And continuous review meeting is also being held at the headquarter. This time we have done very good preparation,” he said.
The District Magistrate said a large number of Police, Navy, Disaster Management Teams, Civil Defense Forces have been deployed to monitor the crowd management, as well as arrangements, have been made to transport people with the facility of GPRS in buses, vessels and barges.
“There is a deployment of police personnel above 15,000. Apart from this, there is civil defence, navy and army is also deployed because the area is so big. Everything has been done for safety and security,” he added.
He said for transportation boats, vessels and all arrangements have been made because to come to this Mela, one will have to cross the ocean.
About three to four lakh people are expected to come and accordingly, all the preparation has been done, he added.
“The order given by the High Court is being 100 per cent followed. continuous checking is being done to see if people are double vaccinated or not. RT-PCR test is being done, no one can come to the island without vaccination and without RT-PCR test and all arrangements have been made accordingly. Mask distribution is also being done so far five lakh masks have been distributed. Masks are mandatory, for this we have kept volunteers and continuous awareness is also being done and announcements are also being made,” he said.
“Right now a lot of people are afraid to go into the water and some people are not able to come, that’s why we have arranged heavy drones for Gangasagar bath, everyone will be bathed in the Ganges by drone. It will start from tomorrow,” he said.
The District Magistrate said this time Ganga Aarti has also been organized in a grand manner.
“A meditation centre has been set up in this area where one can meditate. A museum has been built here in which the complete history of Ganga Sagar will be seen,” he said.
The program will be organized through an e-darshan platform on various social media platforms like YouTube, website, Facebook, Twitter, and being broadcast live on Instagram.
“We are fully prepared for any situation that may arise here at the Mela. We are seeing whether people are following all the COVID protocols or not. Our team is all around the Mela from ground to ocean,” said an official.
Held during the winters, this Mela is an annual gathering of pilgrims that see a number of rituals, lit lamps and chanting in and around Sagardwip. (Image source: Instagram)