Mumbai: Ganesh immersion ceremonies got off to a peaceful start Wednesday with the Mumbai Police, Indian Navy and the Coast Guard providing aerial, sea and land security cover and hundreds of thousands of people gathering for the mega-religious event, officials said.
Coast Guard choppers hovered over the city keeping strict vigil while naval patrol boats and divers were positioned at strategic locations, including the main venue Girgaum Chowpatty, an official said.
One of the largest ones, the Ganesh Gully`s idol of Lord Ganesh, began its slow journey to Girgaum Chowpatty for the final immersion, around five kilometres away.
Police were out in full strength all over the city and suburbs for the immersion ceremonies that kicked off in the morning in most areas with many small family and hand-held idols arriving at various immersion sites.
Security was also been beefed up in neighbouring Thane and entire Konkan region, comprising Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts, besides Pune, where Ganeshotsav is celebrated in a big way, a police official said.
As per last year`s estimates, around 150,000 big and small Ganesh idols shall be taken out in processions from individual homes and major Ganesh mandals, attracting over six million people, including domestic and foreign tourists.
The Ganesh idols, varying from gigantic ones measuring several metres tall to tiny, hand-held ones, shall be taken for immersion into the Arabian Sea at various locations, creeks, rivers, lakes, ponds, reservoirs and artificially-created immersion sites dotting the city and suburbs.
Besides Girgaum Chowpatty, the other prominent immersion sites include Dadar Chowpatty, Juhu Beach, Versova Beach, Marve Beach, Manori Beach, Madh Island, Gorai beach, the Mithi River and its branches, Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
As many as 27 sites are located along the seashore, posing a challenge to the authorities to maintain security as well as safety of the Ganesh revellers and devotees who would throng the immersion venues all day.
Mumbai Police and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation have made elaborate on-site security arrangements at all the immersion sites.
Metal detectors, closed circuit television cameras, hand-held metal detectors, road blocks, loudspeakers and floodlights have been installed at most of the venues to ensure the immersion ceremonies pass off without any untoward incident, an official said.
Elaborate traffic arrangements have also been made with suitable diversions and one way routes to ensure that processions of Ganesh idols are not hampered or delayed as they wend their way to various immersion sites.
In view of the recent terror threats, the parking of all four-wheelers have been banned on all immersion routes and movement of two-wheelers have been banned for the day.