South 24 Parganas (West Bengal): Keeping in view the safety of the devotees who have gathered in large numbers for the Gangasagar Mela in South 24 Parganas of West Bengal, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has also deployed dogs as part of search and rescue operations, if required.
‘It’s a new initiative where we have deployed dogs for search operations in water. Two dogs have been trained for the purpose and we have also gained success from them,’ said, Sudhir Dwivedi, Assistant Commandant of NDRF. ‘A total of five teams have been deployed in Lot 8 of Kachuberia, Sagar Kapil Muni temple, Benuban and Namkhana,’ he said.
‘The NDRF teams deployed in the area are well-equipped with life-saving gear required for search and rescue operations and the teams also consist of women personnel,’ he added.
‘Our inflatable boats have been deployed in all five areas. We are ready for any operation as and when the administration requires,’ he said.
He said that the NDRF teams will be in place till the Mela concludes on January 16.
‘We are alert round the clock and can carry out search and rescue operations at any time,’ he said.
On the other hand, West Bengal Fire and Emergency Services Minister Sujit Bose said around 14,000 police personnel have been deployed at the fair site for security reasons, adding that 31 lakh pilgrims had arrived, till Friday, for the auspicious occasion.
The dip in the Ganges is believed to be sacred on January 14 and 15.
Makar Sankranti is one of the most auspicious times in the year, marking the transition of the Sun from Dakshinayan to Uttarayan.
Celebrated on January 14 every year, the festival is known by various names — Pongal, Bihu, and Maghi.