Bhubaneswar: Odisha government has urged the Centre to take steps not to allow choppers or aircrafts to fly over Grand Road at Puri during Lord Jagannath's famous Nabakalebara festival due to safety reasons, official sources said on Wednesday.
"..Steps may be taken not to allow choppers or aircrafts to fly over Badadanda (Grand Road) during the festival on July 18, July 26 and July 27 due to safety reasons," C R Patra, Joint Secretary in the Odisha government's general administration department wrote to Director, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, New Delhi.
Patra also sent a copy of the letter to the Director, Biju Patnaik Airport and Director, Air Traffic Control, Bhubaneswar.
A copy of the letter was released to the media today.
Stating that the Additional Director General of Odisha Police in charge of law and order has recommended suspension of flights of choppers and aircraft over Grand Road, Puri, Patra requested the Director, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security to treat the matter as "extremely urgent."
While July 18, 2015 will be celebrated as Rath Jatra Day, the Lords' return car festival will be observed on July 26 and the deities would adorn golden attire (Suna Besha) next day on July 27. On these three days, the Odisha Police estimated a congregation of about 25 lakh people to witness the festival, sources said.
The state government has estimated that a total of about 50 lakh people may visit Puri to witness Lord Jagannath's Nabakalebara festival which is being observed after a gap of 19 years. During the Nabakalebara festival, the wooden bodies of Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Lord Jagannath are changed with new ones. Therefore, the government expected very heavy footfall in Puri in July this year.
While the Odisha Police have already made security arrangements for the festival both on land and sea, it wanted to ensure that there should be no danger from the air, a senior police officer said, adding that state home secretary Asit Kumar Tripathy convened a high-level meeting of top police officers to review security bandobast in Puri.
"The security arrangements are being made keeping in view the advisories being issued by the Union Home Ministry and intelligence inputs," said a senior officer.