Mumbai, taut with tension and on a high alert after the July 11 train bombings, is now preparing for its biggest festivities, the 10-day long Ganesh festival dedicated to the elephant god who is seen as a harbinger of good fortune.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), Mumbai Police and the Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal Coordination Committee (SGMCC) have come together to put into place a special security package for the tens of thousands of marquees that come up all over the city.
"This year we are taking more precautions in view of the 11/7 bomb blasts. Of the 10,228 public marquees, some 100 are very popular and attract huge crowds. We have recommended metal detectors and close-circuit TV cameras to be installed at the entrances," said Mumbai police commissioner AN Roy.
"To avert any possible terror strikes at the marquees, the BMC, SGMCC and the police have set up new rules this year. Visitors will have to go empty-handed. Even women devotees will not be allowed to carry purses," said SGMCC president Pandurang Jadhav.
"Also garlands to be offered to the idols will undergo through checks. Devotees offering prasad will have to taste them in the presence of security personnel," Jadhav told on Monday.
Security arrangements apart, the BMC and Mumbai Police have also made it mandatory for new and existing Ganesh festival committees to obtain necessary permission for organising the festival. There have been few new allocations for new committees.
"Apart, from deploying armed police personnel at all the marquees, the committees have been asked to submit detailed information of all volunteers to be engaged during the festival. The mobile and residential telephone numbers of the volunteers will have to be submitted to the nearest police stations," Roy said.
"Each committee will have at least 20 volunteers, whose credentials would be verified by the local police stations," Roy added.
"We are also considering installing closed-circuit TV cameras at Dadar, Juhu, Girgaun and other beaches on Sep 6, the immersion day. Besides, zonal deputy commissioners of police will monitor security arrangements," he said.
"Intelligence inputs had warned us to be on guard from Aug 15 to 20. We have been extra cautious. Vital installations and places of importance have been under heavy security since Independence Day and will continue to remain so at least for a few days ahead," the police commissioner said.
Intelligence agencies have tipped Mumbai Police that some 'leftover' groups of terrorist outfits are still roaming in the country and Mumbai could still be their target.
Security has therefore being tightened at railway stations, bus terminuses, entry points, vital installations, religious places and communally sensitive areas, sources said.