Ganeshotsav begins on September 17 and ends on September 27, and the Mumbai police are gearing up to ensure that the festival passes off without a hitch.
For the first time this year, the entire immersion route of the Lalbaugcha Raja Ganpati, which is also used by numerous other Ganeshotsav mandals in south and central Mumbai, will be under complete CCTV camera coverage, while routes taken by several other major immersion processions will also be sanitised by the police and watched closely.
The Ganeshotsav begins on September 17 and ends on September 27, and the Mumbai police are gearing up to ensure that the festival passes off without a hitch.
High on the list of priorities are anti-terror measures and communal harmony, with the hanging of 1993 bomb blasts convict Yakub Memon still fresh in public memory and the special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court expected to announce the punishment for the 12 convicts in the 2006 train blasts.
Police said the main concern was ensuring the safety of the immersion processions, which witness participation by thousands of people on the second, fifth, seventh and tenth day of the festival.
“The route taken by the Lalbaugucha Raja Ganesh idol to reach the Girgaum chowpatty for immersion will be completely covered by CCTV cameras this year. Several other major Ganeshotsav mandals too use the same route and they, too, will be covered by these cameras. The footage will be viewed in three control rooms, one in the D B Marg police station, one in the V P Road police station and the third at Girgaum chowpatty,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Deven Bharti.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Milind Bharambe added, “Processions with hundreds of people make for soft targets for saboteurs and need to be secured properly.” Officials said the Mumbai police had been trying to implement this move for some years, but it was only this year that the requisite infrastructure was available. The practice will be continued in the coming years.
There are around 7,000 Ganeshotsav mandals in Mumbai, which will be displaying Ganesh idols all over the city, and 88 immersion points. The traffic police will be ensuring the smooth movement of processions to these points with the help of nearly 1,000 volunteers from bodies like the National Cadet Corps, the Road Safety Patrol, NGOs and HAM radio operators.
“Field control rooms have been set up at five major beaches in Mumbai, along with infrastructure like lights, loudspeakers and cameras,” said Bharambe. Bharti added that the anti-terror cells in each police station had been briefed about their roles and would be out in the field all through the festival. The police will also keep an eye on rumour mongers.