The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Special measures for autumn fervour

Special forces to keep the peace during the Pujas; special Metro Rail services for pandal-hoppers; special power-supply plans, special curbs on‘loud’ pujas…

A slew of announcements on Thursday promises to pave the path for a ‘special’ Puja this year. At least 60 personnel from the Special Trained Spotter Force (STSF) will be deployed, along with commandos, to patrol “important areas” from Sashthi. Ninety police jeeps and 12,500 cops will also be on the move. There were 10,000 policemen on Puja duty in 2001 but no STSF men. Seventeen police assistance booths will be set up at vital intersections.

No less than 220 policemen will be deployed at the 17 Metro stations. Metro Rail will run 440 Puja trains from Saptami to Dashami, at an average interval of 10 to 20 minutes.

“Last year, the number of commuters was 8.33 lakh and this time, we are expecting the passenger count to cross nine lakh,” said P. K. Chatterjee, chief operations manager of Metro.

Trains will run from 3 pm to 12 midnight on Saptami, 3 pm to 4 am on Ashtami and Nabami, 3 pm to 8.30 pm on Dashami. Besides Dum Dum and Tollygunge, railway maintenance staff will be deployed at Shyambazar, Central, Esplanade and Jatin Das Park. A special officer and a medical team will be present at eight important stations.

Puja planning is on at the CESC headquarters as well. In a bid to check electricity theft, CESC officials have decided to carry out surprise checks at pandals. Shantanu Chatterjee, CESC executive director (corporate development), said on Thursday that around 2,500 Puja organisers have been given temporary connections to consume a sanctioned amount of power.

Action will also be taken against organisers if they force any consumer to allow them to draw power from a residential connection. Consumers can lodge complaints pertaining to this menace by dialling a 24-hour CESC helpline, 1912.

A complaint call of a different kind can be made to West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) at 335-8212, if a loudspeaker plays between 10 pm and 6 am in the open or above 65 decibels during the day and 55 decibels at night. Or if a firecracker is burst within 100 metres of a medical, educational or religious institution.

The state environment department has extended powers to its senior and assistant engineers, executive magistrates, assistant commissioners and deputy superintendents of police to check noise pollution during Durga Puja and Diwali.

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