Bhubaneswar: Conducting an incident-free festival which boasts of a footfall of several lakhs, is not a cakewalk. The grand festival of Rath Yatra today witnessed even double the usual turnout every year.
Managing the crowd, keeping them hydrated and ensuring that no untoward incident occurs, was the responsibility of a joint team led by senior officials of the Odisha Fire Service (OFS).
“There were at least 39 fire tenders, rescue vans were deployed to soothe extremely humid climate in Puri. Pilgrims were demanding more water fire personnel to amange the conditions through water mist and sprinkling,” said DG Fire Service, SK Upadhyay.
The crowd was huge and ecstatic. Howver, the Firemen were calm composed and doing their jobs with all dedication, serving the pilgrims who had come to witness Rath Yatra after a two year hiatus.
The district administration carried out a mock drill on June 26, during which it was understood that an additional number of water sprinklers would be needed. “We immediately mobilised 10 more water sprinklers and deployed those at vantage points on the Bada Danda.”
“This was anticipated considering 2-fold increase in numbers of pilgrims visiting Puri after gap of 2 years. All five important tanks were patrolled by pre-positioned boats, life-rescue equipment, and scuba divers, 24/7. They saved one person from drowning today,” Upadhyay added.