INITIATIVES UNDERTAKEN FOR
GANGASAGAR MELA 2021
With prayers on their lips, nearly Lakhs & lakhs of devotees from across the country as well as from neighbouring Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh jostled for space since early hours today to take a dip in the holy water at Gangasagar, also known as 'Sagardwip'. Every year, on Makar Sankranti day, an ocean of pilgrims gathers here to take a dip at the confluence of the River Ganga and the Bay of Bengal and offer prayers in the Kapil Muni Temple. In 2018, around 15 lakh pilgrims had visited the Ganga Sagar Mela. In the year 2019 nearly 20 lakh people witnessed the mela & offered prayers.
The mammoth task of pilgrim management for their safety, security, convenience & accessibility is the biggest challenge & responsibility for the administration as it not connected with the mainland unlike Kumbh Mela or so on which acts as a big threat to attract maximum pilgrims to the holy Sagar Island. The South 24 Parganas District Administration has to bridge the gap from mainland to sea, maintaining all security parameters for their convenience & accessibility. So, the administration has introduced a number of protocols for pilgrim management during mela days for 'Milan Tirtha Gangasagar 2021'.
- Intelligent assessment and management of the crowd to avoid any calamity on a real time basis.
- GPS tracking of all vehicles and vessels carrying pilgrims for real time analysis of flow movement.
- Marking of navigation channels and integration with GPS even under zero visibility condition.
- System generated alert for police and officials on crowd handling as per COVID 19 norms.
- For uninterrupted all-weather voice transmission an alternative calling system has been introduced named as ‘Sagar Sanchar’ placed at strategic points in mela through the use of VHF Radio Technology.
- Key officials will be deployed at different locations to be connected with two-way transmission system.
- 50 Manpacks / key officials will be deployed at a radius of approx. 40 km from Mela control room.
- WIFI Booths will be installed for the convenience of pilgrims to call via an app.
- CCTV Surveillance is a very crucial tool for monitoring the mela & pilgrim activities termed as 'E-Nirikhan'.
- 5 control rooms have been set up with electrical & infrastructural equipment's.
- Use of IP, Analog & Drone driven CCTV Camera for 24x7 monitoring.
- 10 Buffer Zones to be covered with surveillance along with the transmission of live feed to designated locations.
- The West Bengal government installed 1000 CCTV cameras along the over 150 km route from Babughat in Kolkata to the Sagar Island, deployed around 3,000 policemen and pressed into service 20 security drones as part of its security coverage.
- E- snan is a special initiative by the District administration of South 24 Parganas keeping the pandemic situation in mind. Through this initiative a ‘Prasad Pack’ entailing Gangajal container, Prasad and Holy Tika will be delivered directly at the doorsteps, wherein people can take a holy bath and feel the essence of Sahi Snan during Makar Shankranti. The pack can be booked and ordered through the website with only the delivery charge.
- The 'Prasad Pack' will contain a Ganga Jal container, Pedha, Holy Sindoor& a Booklet. This can be easily availed through the website for a minimal charge.
A great number of tourists also visit Gangasagar during the holy period of Mela besides pilgrims. Being a part from the new generation who are technologically sound, such tourists would always prefer social media platforms and web-based applications to participate in such events. This is the reason why the District administration of Gangasagar has introduced AtithiPatha- an android mobile app providing important information & service for the pilgrims and officials about Gangasagar 2021.
- The app is a handy mode of communication system which guides users by offering easy access to important locations and information to reach there, besides providing a list of crucial help line numbers along with a one touch access to central helpline of Gangasagar2021.
- Similarly, it includes functionalities like Route options like train, bus, ferry along with timings to reach the mela grounds. The facilities also entail medical assistance, emergency contact details, tide timing and weather forecast, Google Map integration, accommodation details, Pandemic precautions and detailed Nirmal Ganga activities.In addition to this, it provides a gallery of images and videos of Gangasagar besides the live streaming of mela.
- The app is integrated with the official website, providing an easy access to services like “Lost & Found” portal, “e-Snan”, “e-Darshan”, “Vahan Tracker” as well as quick links to other social media sources related to Gangasagar.
Thus, this app is extremely useful for users visiting Gangasagar as well as to those who are not able to attend the mela physically, delivering the real essence of Ganga Mela at home.
- GPS tracking of all vehicles and vessels carrying pilgrims for real time analysis of flow movement. During the peak period the buses are reluctant to ply in time. And as a consequence, hundreds and thousands of people gather at the bus stands of Kachuberia and Gangasagar. The huge distance between the two places and lack of physical monitoring these buses hide themselves through off route. To combat the problem, GPS tracking system will be enabled on all vehicles and vessels carrying pilgrims for real time analysis of flow movement. Now, the exact location of those vehicles will be tracked and necessary information can be sent through mobile patrol team. This system will no doubt help to disperse the crowd in time.
- The Administration has introduced a Helpline No. 1800-345-2021 (Toll Free) which can be accessed from any part of India, people can place their queries & ask for any help.
- The administration has introduced e-Darshan, an initiative for outdoor display and promotion of social and the official website. LED screens will be installed showcasing relative information and videos on Gangasagar 2021 along with the schemes undertaken by Govt. of West Bengal.
- The website has been technically structured as an informative medium for pilgrim awareness and accessibility.
- As a part of interactive new age media, it delivers crucial information about Ganga mela and transmits live coverage of Gangasagar.
- There will be a dedicated social media page providing the glimpse of latest activities and events.
- Through social media platforms people can engage and place queries while updating themselves.
- The administration has introduced a QR based wrist band for the pilgrims to diminish the sum of lost and found cases. Every wear over 20,000 pilgrims visit Gangasagar and a large number of them are elders and minors coming from outside the state.
- Unfortunately, due to heavy rush on the days, a considerable number of these pilgrims get detached from their companions. And it becomes really difficult to resolve the issue. This is the reason why detection measures are introduced in the form of barcode and QR based waterproof wristbands.
- These wrist bands will be distributed free of cost at buffer zones and bus stands. While putting this on the wrist, the companions can provide credentials to the database. If any individual wearing the wristband gets separated during Sagar Mela, he or she will be successfully reunited with companions through the details fetched through portable reader with QR and barcode details. The main wristbands will be offered at mainland buffer zone, LOT 8 bus stand and Namkhana railway station.
- District administration of South 24 parganas along with Gangasagar Baikhali Development authority has taken an oath to make Gangasagar eco-friendly, clean and green this 2021. With this vision in mind, the authority is banning the single-use plastic bags, thermocol (EPS) and paper plates in the mela premises.
- There will be a distribution of eco-friendly materials. Promotional activities of eco-friendly mela will be held through awareness campaigns by local communities. The targeted young community members especially the fishermen community is going to implement litter management in the coastal line areas near the mela ground. The disposal and collection of bio-degradable materials will be available around the mela premises. Simultaneously, floating and solid waste management will be implemented on a regular basis at the mela and beach. There will be an initiative to clean trash and save individuals from drowning through deep water barricading.