The Madhya Pradesh government has installed app-based panic buttons, close circuit cameras and stationed 35,000 personnel for the month-long Simhastha Kumbh in Ujjain to prevent a repeat of the Kerala temple fire.
At least 30 million visitors are expected to visit Ujjain during the fair starting April 22 and the government is leaving nothing to chance. The Kumbh administration has re-drawn its security plan to reduce response time if a tragedy strikes.
“For crowd management, we have head count cameras in place, more than 550 CCTV cameras, face recognition cameras and automatic number plate recognition cameras have been installed in 134 locations,” said additional superintendent of police Manish Khatri, in-charge of security arrangements.
Police have integrated fire stations with traffic control and public announcement systems to clear way for fire tenders in case of a blaze.
“With head count cameras, we will manage flow of crowd in different zone and divert them to other locations. We have stationed 25 quick response teams, 50 Dial 100 first-response vehicles, 20 bomb detection and disposal squads and 50 sniffer dogs,” Khatri said.
The administration is particularly worried about the three “shahi snans” on April 22, May 9 and May 21 when thousands of pilgrims will descend on the ghats of the river Kshipra. The ghats are much smaller than other Kumbh locations and is prone to stampedes, a regular occurrence at religious congregations across the country.
“We have expanded our ghats and installed barricades,” said Diwakar Natu, the chairman of Simhastha Mela Authority.
The mela administration has also created a panic button on its mobile app. Tapping this button will directly alert the central control. “We put up 10,000 electric poles that are uniquely numbered and connected to central control room through GIS mapping,” explained SS Rawat, deputy mela officer. “If an alarm is raised from any place, we will be able to pin point the location of the alarm.”