Kolkata: As the city of joy is frenzied with the Puja fever, Kolkata Police has put in place elaborate foolproof arrangements from Panchami to Dashami. .
Describing managing this year’s Durga Puja as a “bigger challenge” compared to other years because it has coincided with Muharram, a top city police officer said, “We have requested clerics to conclude their rallies during the Durga Puja days by 4 pm… So that the rallies do not cause any problem to people coming out for pandal hopping.”
In fact, Kolkata Police has altered routes of Muharram rallies to avoid congestion at major roads which also lead to big-budget Durga Pujas, he said, adding that the main concern would be on the fifth and seventh day of Muharram.
“While the crucial fifth day has fallen on Sasthi (October 19), seventh day is on Asthami (October 21) when we will have to manage maximum rush… So need to be extra cautious,” a senior officer of Kolkata Police told PTI.
Apart from around 14,000 police personnel along with 4,000 temporary home guards scheduled to be posted across the city, another few hundred thousand constables with over 450 trainee traffic sergeants will be the additional force on roads on the five days on 24-hour basis, he said.
According to the IPS officer, crowd and traffic control during the Durga Pujas in the city and its surrounding added areas, which witnessed a phenomenal rise in the number of mega-budget pujas, is becoming a bigger challenge each year for the Force.
In this context, Kolkata Police has also drawn up specific traffic regulations on 133 streets which will be effective from Panchami (October 18).
Traffic will be barred on several roads from 3 pm to 1 am on Panchami (October 18) which will be extended to 3 am from Sasthi (October 19), Saptami (October 20), Astami (October 21) and Navami (October 22).
In addition, the number of CCTV cameras has also been increased to 770 to cover all the major crossings in the city.
Besides, 46 watch towers, the Force would also use two drones to “study crowd activities”, he said.
“There will be additional police deployment at metro stations, Kalighat Temple area and other important places of the city. Disaster Management personnel and extra volunteers will also be deployed at places,” the officer said.
High Radio Flying Squad (HRFS) would have 25 strength (13 added for Durga Puja), the Radio Flying Squad (RFS) would have 67 personnel during the five days of the festival.
Thirteen ambulances, six police mobile assistance vans would be roaming around the city and its added areas while a team of Kolkata Police Detective Department missing squad officers would be on duty during the five days, he said.
Talking about police deployment in the added areas of the city that spread over 104 sq km under 13 police stations, the senior officer said, “Full police bandobast will be there from Panchami. There will be eight to 10 sub-inspectors along with a lady SI plus 10 ASIs and nearly 60 constables in each of the police stations in these areas.”
At least near about 28 big pujas and over 1,000 medium-scale pujas are there in the added areas.
City police headquarters Lalbazar sources said that they have sought additional manpower from the state police.
NCC cadets, scouts, students and several NGOs will be used for managing crowds at pandals.
The state fire department, this year, has added 50-60 new fire tenders and 36 bullet bikes to its existing fleet keeping in mind the Puja celebrations.
Few fire tenders have been sent to the districts also for the festival as well, a senior official at the Fire department said.
Temporary offices with a couple of fire tenders have been set up at 14 crucial points in the city, the officer said adding that leaves of all personnel have been cancelled.
Meanwhile, in its attempt to help pandal hoppers, Kolkata Police has for the first time this year launched an Android-based mobile app “Smart Puja Guide 2015 ? Utsavapp”.
Besides, providing its user with news and updates, Utsavapp will also help one to locate the nearest Durga Puja with the road and route maps. It will also provide one with the time to drive to a puja pandal from current location.
It was learnt that Kolkata Police, this year has increased their staff strength in most of the divisions as well as in its traffic wing.