The state government has decided to rope in the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) to prepare an emergency management scheme to effectively deal with the crowd during the 2015 Nabakalebar festival at Jagannath Temple in Puri.
The state government expects a footfall of nearly 30 lakh pilgrims during Nabakalebar when new wooden idols of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra will be formed. The existing idols will be buried inside the temple. Nabakalebar was last observed in 1996.
At a high-level meeting held last month, chief secretary J K Mohapatra stressed on issues such as crowd control and evacuation of pilgrims during emergency situations. “The emergency management scheme will be developed in consultation with NDMA and CISF. A quick reaction team will be formed to handle any emergency situation,” said the official minutes of the meeting. At least 127 well-trained police officers will be part of the quick reaction team. “The CISF will suggest a plan to the police to augment security inside the temple,” the proceeding said.
The government would impart training to police officers and Jagannath Temple Police (JTP), a non-police force raised by the Jagannath Temple for better crowd management and behaviour. The Jagannath Temple administration was asked to install giant television screens at different locations in Puri to disperse crowd from Jagannath Temple area.
To keep the space in front of Jagannath Temple free from crowd, the police have decided to install “collapsible barricades” between the temple office and shrine.
Mohapatra asked the director (intelligence) and Puri police to deploy police personnel in plain clothes in and outside the temple, beach area and railway station to collect intelligence. The government is jittery about the recent visit of two Indian Mujahideen operatives to Puri.
“Director (intelligence) will send us a proposal to create a specialized intelligence unit, exclusively for temple security and surveillance of hotels,” the proceedings said.
Mohapatra instructed Puri district administration to insist that business establishments install CCTV cameras outside their shops. “The executive officer of Puri municipality will ensure installation of cameras by business houses during issuance of licences,” the minutes said.