Priyanka Dutta, Kolkata: With exactly 24 hours to go for the FIFA U-17 World Cup, Host Kolkata ready for ‘first step for the future’ in maiden appearance in event.
Salt Lake stadium will be hosting ten FIFA U-17 World Cup matches, which also includes the final on October 28. But according to the Kolkata police, the 66,000 capacity stadium can be evacuated in mere eight minutes if any case of emergency takes place at the venue.
It took 55 months, 105 meetings between multiple government agencies and inputs from IIT Kharagpur and Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology, Shibpur, to get the stadium ready to be handed over to Fifa.
Altogether 400 specially trained police personnel would be deployed as stewards at the Salt Lake Stadium during all the 10 FIFA Under-17 World Cup matches to be played in Kolkata. The FIFA website describes a steward as a person employed, hired, contracted or volunteering at the stadium to assist in the management of safety and security of spectators, VIPs, players, officials and any other person at the stadium.
“We have prepared a detailed evacuation plan. The entire stadium, even if full to the brim, can be evacuated safely and smoothly in only eight minutes in emergency situations,” said Police commissioner of Bidhannagar, Gyanwant Singh. Gyanwant said there are no chances of any threatening situation as the security system is very tight at the Salt Lake stadium.
“We don’t want to take any risk in view of the global situation. So we have prepared for all crisis situations. The emergency evacuation plan we have formulated will ensure there is no stampede.”
The top police officer said that spectators would only be allowed to take their mobile phones inside the stadium and women can carry a purse with them. Water bottles, newspapers, bags, nothing will be allowed. They won’t allow anything that can be used as missile.
The officer also said that in case of any racial comments passed by spectators, police will take strict action against the offender. The police have also made tight security arrangements at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport and many shopping malls as well. Kolkata is also the FIFA headquarters for the U-17 World Cup.
400 police personnel, including 120 women, were selected for the job from various forces and five commissionerates in West Bengal. In case of a racial abuse, first a warning would be issued and if the offence is repeated, the accused would be dealt with sternly. Some stewards will face the crowd to keep an eye on them during the matches, according to a senior officer of the state home department.
National Security Guard (NSG) commandos will remain on standby at their hub in Badu near Madhyamgram on the U-17 World Cup match days at the Salt Lake stadium. So will Mi-17V5 helicopters of the Indian Air Force (IAF) at Air Force Station Barrackpore to airlift them to the stadium at short notice, should the need arise.
Special equipment has been brought in for proper monitoring. Hospitals have been asked to remain prepared. Around 260 CCTVs have been installed at the Salt Lake Stadium to keep tabs on spectators. There would be 110 check posts at the entry gates of the stadium. The Salt Lake Stadium will host eight matches on October 8, 11, 14, 17 and 22. The match for the third place and the final would also be played on October 28.