With a heart full of unwavering faith, lakhs & lakhs of devotees from across the country as well as from neighbouring Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh congregated since early hours today to take part in the Gangasagar yatra.
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 West Bengal government installed 500 CCTV cameras along the over 100 km route from Babughat in Kolkata to the Sagar Island, deployed around 3,000 policemen and pressed into service seven security drones as part of its security coverage.
Gangasgar mela 2020 witnessed around 50 lakh devotees. The administration had decided to live stream it on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube so that devotees could witness them from home. The devotees can also get the holy water delivered to their homes if they book for E-Snan in advance.
The state government equipped its officials with satellite phones to ensure uninterrupted connectivity during the Mela. The West Bengal government also introduced the Sagar Sanjog Scheme, for providing real-time information regarding the movement of people and vehicles too. For the pilgrims, 60 giant LED screens were placed at different points for updates about the timings and tariffs of trains, buses and ferries, tide timings as well as safety precautions. The information was provided in three languages -- Bengali, Hindi and English.
As there would be no Kumbh mela in the forthcoming year, pilgrims are bound towards Gangasagar mela this year.
Gangasagar 2021 will have all the safety protocols. Thermal scanners will be put up in railway stations, bus stands and ferry ghats to check the temperature of devotees on arrival. Sanitization and distribution of masks will be done primarily. Several NGOs have been roped in to do the job. Quarantine centres, safe homes and testing facilities will be there. Availability of a large number of vehicles will also be there to facilitate social distancing.