Ganpati immersion ceremony ends in Maharashtra (Lead)

September 22nd, 2010 - 11:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Sep 22 (IANS) Ganesh immersion ceremonies went off peacefully here Wednesday with hundreds of thousands of people gathering for the mega-religious event, officials said. However, in a tragic incident six devotees drowned during the ceremonies.
“Except for the death of six devotees in Chandrapur district, no untoward incidence took place,” a police officer said.

“The victims had gone to the Irai river to immerse the Ganesh idol when they reportedly lost their balance and were swept away by the waters,” said H.G. Chandewar, police head of Urjanagar town, 170 kms from Nagpur city.

With various NGOs like United Way and Clean Mumbai Foundation joining the team of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) workers, the beaches were well managed during the immersion ceremonies.

The Ganesh idols, varying from gigantic ones measuring several metres to tiny, hand-held ones, were taken for immersion into the Arabian Sea at various locations, creeks, rivers, lakes, ponds, reservoirs and artificially-created immersion sites dotting the city and suburbs.

The Indian Navy and the Coast Guard provided aerial, sea and land security cover. While the Coast Guard choppers hovered over the city keeping strict vigil, the naval patrol boats and divers were positioned at strategic locations, including the main venue Girgaum Chowpatty, an official said.

Police were out in full strength all over the city and suburbs for the immersion ceremonies that kicked off in the morning in most areas with many small family and hand-held idols arriving at various immersion sites.

Nearly two lakh big and small Ganesh idols are estimated to be taken out in processions from homes and major Ganesh mandals, attracting over six million people, including domestic and foreign tourists.

Besides Girgaum Chowpatty, the other prominent immersion sites include Dadar Chowpatty, Juhu Beach, Versova Beach, Marve Beach, Manori Beach, Madh Island, Gorai beach, the Mithi River and its branches and Sanjay Gandhi National Park.

As many as 27 sites were located along the seashore, posing a challenge to the authorities to maintain security as well as safety of the Ganesh revellers and devotees who thronged the immersion venues all day.

Mumbai Police and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation had made elaborate on-site security arrangements at all the immersion sites.

With metal detectors, closed circuit television cameras, hand-held metal detectors, road blocks, loudspeakers and floodlights installed at most of the venues, we had already reduced chances of any untoward incident, an official said.

Elaborate traffic arrangements with suitable diversions and one way routes to ensure that processions of Ganesh idols were not hampered or delayed also proved to be helpful.

More than 16,000 policemen were deployed for security arrangements. “We have also called for 3,000 policemen from the reserves. Sixteen companies of the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) are also on duty,” a traffic official said.

In view of the recent terror threats, the parking of all four-wheelers was banned on all immersion routes and movement of two-wheelers were banned for the day.

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