On the occasion of Makar Sankranti, more than half a million of pilgrims will be taking a dip in the Ganga where it flows out into the Bay of Bengal. The West Bengal government has made elaborate arrangements for the annual Gangasagar fair beginning on Friday.
About 150 km from Kolkata in South 24-Parganas district, this island is considered auspicious by the Hindus, who gather here on Makar Sankranti, for a holy dip and to pray by offering coconuts at the Kapil Muni temple. The devouts believe that a single dip in the sacred water washes off sins of one's lifetime.
Expecting a huge turnout, the Mamata Banerjee government has deputed seven ministers to supervise the arrangements at the fair.
Besides setting up 12,000 toilets, including around 2,000 mobile toilets, and installing floodlights across the ghats, at least 140 CCTV cameras and a number of watch towers have been installed in and around the Kapil Muni temple on the island, for constant monitoring.
While a team of Rural Development Minister Subrata Mukherjee, Housing Minister Arup Biswas and Power Minister Manish Gupta is supervising the arrangements at Kachuberia jetty, the entry point at the island, another team of four ministers led by Municipal Affairs Minister Firhad Hakim, is stationed at Harwood Point - the approach point to the island.
Giving security the highest priority, the state government has deployed adequate number of police personnel and is also taking the help of the navy, Coast Guard and the Border Security Force.
The annual fair will begin on Friday.