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15,50,000 pilgrims take the holy dip at Ganga Sagar on Makar Sankranti

15,50,000 pilgrims take the holy dip at Ganga Sagar on Makar Sankranti

Sagar Island: The South 24-Parganas district administration's constant awareness programmes to encourage devotees for e-Snan during the Ganga Sagar Mela on Makar Sankranti this year yielded results with 2,00,389 pilgrims opting for it in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic. This apart, the Calcutta High Court had also laid emphasis on the need for 'e-snan' (e-bathing) to avoid crowding for the holy dip at the confluence of the Ganga and the Bay of Bengal.

There were 55 e-snan counters set up in Ganga Sagar, Kachuberia, Harwood bus stand (Kakdwip), Outram Ghat (Kolkata) and other buffer zones.

However, the pilgrims opting for physical dip had reduced more than thrice compared to last year. While 15,50,000 pilgrims took the holy dip on Thursday, last year the total number was 50,00,000.

"Shahi Snan started today (January 14, 2021) at 6:02 am and continued up to 7 am. Punya kal will continue till 6:02 am tomorrow (January 15, 2021)," said state Panchayats and Rural Development minister Subrata Mukherjee, who took stock of the arrangements along with state Fire and Emergency Services minister Sujit Bose, state Public Works Department minister Aroop Biswas and state Power minister Sovandeb Chattopadhyay on Thursday.

Live visuals of the special puja offerings performed during 'Punya kal' was shown in more than 250 LED TVs placed in Outram Ghat as well as Ganga Sagar Mela venue. Over 51 lakh people have viewed live puja through e-darshan platforms (Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other websites).

The holy 'snan' was done under strict Covid preventive measures. Pilgrims were allowed for the holy dip in a staggered manner. Mandir darshan was also allowed in a controlled way. From the mela ground, two patients were airlifted to Howrah for advance emergency treatment.

The Indian Navy also deployed two teams of specialist divers at Kakdwip and Sagar Island with inflatable boats and diving equipment for providing Search and Rescue (SAR) cover to the public at the mega event.

Over 10.9 lakh pilgrims have been medically screened at all the entry points. Rapid Antigen Tests have been performed on 36,600 persons. Random samples of about 6,302 persons were drawn at all major points of which none of the pilgrims was found Covid positive.

The state has also set up five RT-PCR testing facilities and eight safe homes with 615 beds.

Eleven quarantine facilities, seven Covid hospitals with 600 beds and six wellness centres have also been built.

More than 2,500 health personnel have been deployed for handling the situation, with green corridor arrangements for emergency evacuation of people also in place.

No Covid positive case has been found during the course of the Ganga Sagar Mela till date at Sagar Island.

"To keep Ganga Sagar clean, a massive beach cleaning activity will be taken up tomorrow (January 15, 2021)," said South 24-Parganas District Magistrate P Ulaganathan.

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