October 15, 2013
Tireless efforts by state administration results in yet another trouble-free Durga Puja
The Maa, Mati, Manush Government gifted the State of West Bengal yet another trouble-free Durga Puja, thanks to the advanced planning and able leadership of the Chief Minister Ms. Mamata Banerjee. Not a single untoward incident that was reported during the festive days. In Kolkata, the joint efforts of the Kolkata Police and the Kolkata Municipal Corporation led to a hassle-free Puja for all the pandalhoppers. The traffic was fast moving, smooth and hassle-free thanks to the system put in place. Policemen manned the streets till late night and even during the wee hours of dawn, to manage the crowds dropping in at pandals.
The Planning :
Durga Puja organizers in the city were able to obtain all necessary clearances through a single-window system for the second consecutive year. The single-window clearance system was introduced last year on the Chief Minister`s suggestion. Kolkata Police, CESC, Kolkata Municipal Corporation and the fire Department at Lalbazar had decided to repeat last year's procedure.
The Chief Minister held joint meeting on September 27th, with the concerned administrative bodies like Kolkata Police, Kolkata Municipal Corporation, members of the Puja Committees across the city. She suggested that the problem of clogged thoroughfares during immersion be dealt with by starting the processions during daytime, from 2pm instead of 5pm. She also recommended decentralization of the immersion process to decongest the big roads, which get crowded during immersion days. The Chief Minister asked the police to increase the number of helplines, from the usual three to ten, in an attempt to provide people on the move better access to administrative assistance.
Just before the Puja, the Chief Minister said that she has asked the administration to keep a close watch and take steps against forcible collection of donations. Like the past two years, the Traffic Police should ensure that people could visit the puja pandals without trouble, she added.
She said police would keep a vigil so that no miscreant could hamper the communal amity during the Pujas and the upcoming Eid-ul-Zuha festival. The Ministers, MLAs, Councillors and Members of Zilla Parishad, Panchayat Samity and Gram Panchayat would also have to keep a watch on this,” she said.
The Puja Days :
Kolkata geared up for the Pujas from the day of Panchami, Oct 9th. Like last year, the pandal hoppers had a trouble free experience while commuting. At every crossing, there were police outposts. Police took adequate steps to ensure people spent least time at important junctions. At places like Gariahat, all hawkers with their temporary stalls were asked to clear the footpath during the Puja days. The auto-ricksaw service, which is often blamed for creating traffic snarls, were asked not to operate after 4 pm during the Puja dates. There were abundant police patrol cars, deployment of women of police officers, even at the lanes and by-lanes of the city, constantly keeping a vigil, even at the wee hours of pre-dawn. All these made people, especially women feel safer while moving on from pandal to pandal.
The the Kolkata Police provided free medical services from Saptami to Navami in areas that fall under eight police stations : Shyampukur, Jorabagan, Ahmerst Street, Burtola, Tala, Sinthee, Cossipore and Chitpur in North Kolkata. The service was available from 6 p.m. till midnight. There were ambulances carrying doctors, paramedical staff with Oxygen and life saving drugs. There were helpline numbers too. The state Transport Department also opened a control room at Netaji Indoor Stadium.
The Immersion Day :
There was a time when all hell broke loose every year on the days of the immersion. There used to be fights among the Puja Committee members, drunken brawls and what not. But now, this is all history. Such is the security and vigil that these days, nobody even dares to create a fuss. Elaborate security arrangements by city police as well as civic authorities were in place at various ghats of the river to ensure that the immersion of the idols passed peacefully. Officers of the Kolkata Police manned the riverfront to prevent onlookers from getting too close to the river. Special vigil was maintained from a watchtower near the ghat. Cranes were deployed at certain ghats to lift and extricate the remains of idols from the river to avoid pollution. Additional lights had been put up at the immersion ghats for better security. Other than maintaining law and order during immersion, the teams of river police and disaster management groups patrolled the river. Closed-circuit television cameras were installed at certain ghats.
Changes have been made to the process over the last two years to facilitate a pollution-free immersion too. The flowers, levers and metallic weapons were dumped in separate vats to avoid polluting the river.
The Message :
Brand Bangla was showcased during Durga Puja. Foreign tourists in Indian ethnic wear watched awestruck as devotees bid farewell to goddess Durga on Vijaya Dashami. The Tourism Department certainly will be proud that it successfully promoted this wonderful event internationally. Tourists had arrived from the UK, the US and some European countries, and lined up near the Princep Ghat along the bank of the Hooghly to watch the spectacle unfold.
Kolkata had always been different, much more radiating, glittering with colours and lights during the Puja days. For the last 2-3 years, the real change came in the form of the change in attitude of the administrative bodies. Alongside glamour, there has been real change in safety measures, precautionary measures as well as crowd management tactics. Government.
Managing Durga Puja these days has changed and has become a festival with add-ons, courtesy the administrative bodies.