Faithful directed to strictly adhere to safety norms
The State police are bracing for a bruising day on Saturday when thousands of Hindu devotees are expected to flock early in the morning to monsoon-consumed beaches, overflowing riverfronts, flooded bathing ghats and swollen waterbodies to partake in an ancient ritual, Karkidaka Vavu Bali, which they believe will appease the souls of their dear departed.
However, the religious occasion of solemn remembrance is fraught with dangers this year due to the unprecedent severe monsoon weather.
The police fear the practice of wading into the water to propitiate ancestors with prayers and ritualistic offering of rice and flowers will bring adherents uncomfortably close to peril.
he deluge and consequent inundation have stretched police and resources of emergency services to the limit. The police are also worried that they have little control over scores of relatively unknown localities where believers throng to offer Bali.
State Police Chief Loknath Behera on Friday made a last-minute review of the arrangements for the day against a backdrop of scores of worst-case scenario analyses.
He focussed on the Thiruvallam Parasurama Temple, the Varkala Papanasam Temple and beach, both in Thiruvananthapuram, Thirumallavaram Temple in Kollam, and Siva Temple in Aluva, the traditional focal points of the ceremony.
Mr. Behera prioritised crowd-control, posting of lifeguards on beaches and waterfronts, police security cover, drinking water and public transport as the most critical areas that required the State’s attention.
The SPC has also ordered officers to erect barricades wherever necessary to prevent people from venturing into the sea or rapidly flowing waters.
In the rural areas
He focussed on the protection of children, women and also the aged and infirm. In rural areas, the police have enlisted the services of professional swimmers and divers. The Health Department has asked hospitals to stand by to admit mass casualties. Doctors, paramedics, ambulances, medical tents, resuscitation equipment, oxygen cylinders are on the standby.
The Coast Guard and Marine police are also on alert. Mr. Behera requested the public to follow the instructions of crowd regulators strictly.