Sagar Island (WB) Dec 26 (PTI) As part of its security arrangements for Gangasagar Mela, the West Bengal government has taken initiative to replace bamboo barricades with iron railings along the jetties, where devotees board vessels for the Sagar Island in South 24 Parganas district.

Every year on Makar Sankranti (January 14), thousands of pilgrims gather at Sagar island from across the country to take a dip at the confluence of the Hoogly river and Bay of Bengal and offer prayers at the Kapil Muni Ashram.

The work for erecting metal barricades, which may stretch up to 24 km has already begun, District Magistrate Y Ratnakara Rao said Wednesday.

“The iron railings are being constructed at Kakdwip, Namkhana, Kachuberia, Chemaguri and Benuban areas, and also at Kapil Muni Temple on Sagar island to ensure safe passage of pilgrims. A second jetty at Benuban has also been erected to control the flow of pilgrim traffic,” Rao said.

The administration has been closely monitoring the construction work, which is expected to be completed by December 31, the district magistrate said.

Keeping in mind the safety of the pilgrims, the numbers of which have multiplied over the years, the mega control room has been revamped with additional CCTVs and LED screens, he said.

“There will be 800 CCTVs and 12 drones used for 24- hour surveillance in and around the mela area. This will help officials to keep a tab on the crowd and their activities,” Rao said.

Arrangements have also been made to use satellite- based GPS navigation devices to track precise locations of vessels and barges that ferry the pilgrims.

There would be high-tech portable floodlights, capable of illuminating half a football ground around the mela area. It will help in averting night-time accidents, he said.

The state has also made preparations to tackle disasters, if any, the senior official said.

“Extensive planning has been done to take care of all aspects of disaster management, including rescue, relief, and search operations,” he said.

The government has also arranged for well-equipped tents and sheds with improved living conditions for the pilgrims, Rao said.

“We have painted all sheds with fire retardant chemicals to prevent any fire mishaps. Also, to keep the mela area clean 40 e-carts will be at service for solid and liquid waste management,” he added.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee visited the Sagar Island to oversee the preparations for the annual Gangasagar mela.

Speaking to reporters at the Kapil Muni Ashram here, she said state ministers will supervise the activities of the various government agencies during the Gangasagar Mela.

Additional forces would also be deployed, she said.

“We have distributed responsibilities among the home, PHE, Home, irrigation and panchyat departments. We have set up a monitoring committee. The DM and SP will personally monitor the proceedings,” she added.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.