Security Beefed Up in Puri For Ratha Jatra

Puri (Surjit Kumar Dhal): The pilgrim town of Puri has been put under a thick security blanket for the World-famous Rath Yatra. The security along the coastal belt, particularly near the Puri Sea, has been tightened to pre-empt any attack on the town by terrorists using the sea route. The Coast Guard and the Indian Navy have been asked to remain on high alert. More than 10 lakh people are scheduled to visit Puri today for Rath Yatra.

Director-general of police, Arun Kumar Sarangi, said: “All marine police stations have been instructed to intensify extensive sea/land patrolling during the festival. All the measures have been taken for a peaceful Rath Yatra.” The coastal security control room started operating on Friday at Penthakata in Puri to keep contact with the ships and air assets to be deployed during the car festival. “The Indian Coast Guard has been conducting ship patrolling and keeping standby interceptor boats at Paradip and Gopalpur from July 6,” said a police official.

The Indian Coast Guard Air Wing has been conducting air surveillance along the Puri coast by deploying their fixed-wing aircraft and advanced light helicopters in the morning and evening from July 6. It will continue till July 8 and again from July 14 to July 18. The Indian Navy has deployed a team of lifeguards and medical assistants at the Puri sea beach from July 6 to July 20 to perform lifesaving duties.

“Directorate of Fisheries provided two trawlers deployed at Astaranga and Chandrabhaga (Konark) and two small boats at Penthakata police station to keep watch on the movement of fishery boats,” said an official. Besides, the fishery department has deployed Sagar Mitras and fishery officers at all the fish landing points to keep watch on the movement of the suspicious elements. Puri will remain on high alert for nearly 12 days, starting from Saturday to July 19. Odisha Police have implemented AI technology on a pilot basis to enhance traffic and crowd management during the Rath Yatra, a senior police official said.

Additional DGP, Odisha, Dayal Gangwar, said, “This is the first time, as a pilot project, we are trying to use AI-based CCTV coverage where all those CCTV points which we have around 40 points where we have placed CCTV cameras. We would be using AI amalgamated with the CCTV system. We would also be using a drone system to identify the blind spots, identify the jam areas. We are also using drones along with the PA (Public address) system so that there are 4-5 identified spots every year where we normally face huge traffic jams and to help assist the police officers.”

President Droupadi Murmu will witness Rath Yatra in Puri on July 7. Murmu arrived in Bhubaneswar on Saturday for her four-day Odisha visit. Special security arrangements have been for the President’s visit to the festival. While a VIP zone has been planned for the Odisha governor, Chief Minister, Union ministers and other dignitaries, a buffer zone has been planned for the President. Officials have stated that the Odisha government has made extensive arrangements to ensure the smooth execution of the festival, traditionally conducted in a single day.

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