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Boat patrol in dams on Chhath

NDRF to man crowd-magnet ghats, plainclothes lady cops to keep vigil

FRUITS OF LABOUR: (Top) Workers unload dry coconuts, brought from Andhra Pradesh, from a truck at Bazaar Samiti in Dhanbad on Sunday while devotees purchase bamboo soops at Kutchery in Ranchi. Pictures by Gautam Dey and Prashant Mitra

Ranchi: Guardians of the state capital are racing against time to plug safety gaps ahead of Chhath, a sun festival when lakhs of devotees throng 70 water reservoirs, including 42 under civic jurisdiction.

A high-level team from the district administration - led by deputy commissioner Manoj Kumar and comprising SSP Kuldeep Dwivedi, city SP Aman Kumar, ADM (law and order) Girija Shankar Prasad and district disaster management officer Ashok Sharma, among others - conducted a recce of Dhurwa Dam, Ranchi Lake, Karamtoli Talab and Chadri Talab on Sunday to gauge the safety loopholes.

Disaster management officer Sharma said 36 NDRF personnel, at least half of them divers, would be deployed at Ranchi Lake, and Dhurwa and Kanke dams. The rescuers will have six boats and enough life jackets at their disposal.

"The total strength of NDRF in Ranchi is 70, with 30 of them being divers. Each of the three water reservoirs will be manned by two boats and 12 personnel. The others will be deployed for crowd control in these areas and elsewhere," Sharma said.

He added that various social organisations had been asked to station volunteers, who are expert swimmers, at Chhath ghats. "The RMC must arm volunteers with inflated tubes and life jackets."

The team is learnt to have directed the municipal corporation (RMC) to barricade all crowd magnet water bodies with bamboo poles and put up danger signs latest by Chhath-eve, Wednesday. The RMC also has standing instructions to adequately illuminate lake and pond areas where arghya will be offered at sunrise and sunset, besides ensuring clean ghats in the run-up to the Thursday festivities.

SSP Dwivedi, on his part, has asked the officers-in-charge of all the 18urban police stations to prepare a list of swimmers and divers whose services can be used in case of emergencies.

"Like every year, there will be special deployment of forces at Chhath ghats. In addition, policewomen in plain clothes will be stationed. Public announcements will be made to apprise people of safe areas and warn them of danger zones," said city SP Kumar, adding that police stations had been directed to ensure that Chhath Puja organisations installed CCTV cameras at ghats.

The authorities are currently brainstorming over parking arrangements.

"At Dhurwa and Kanke dams, the footfall is maximum footfall. We are identifying parking spaces and entry points," the city SP said.

ADM Prasad said details of emergency services like ambulances and fire tenders would be announced in a day.

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