Bengal administration is likely to deploy drones to spray disinfectants for sanitising the Gangasagar Mela grounds at a faster rate.

This year, WEBEL has been given the responsibility of deploying drones at the mela grounds till 18 January. Considering the advantages of having aerial surveillance using drones, the administration has started deploying drones at Ganga Sagar mela from 2018. Drones have been deployed at crucial junctures like Lot8, Kachuberia, Namkhana, Benuban, Chemaguri, Bus Stand, Sagar Temple and Beach.

Drones are flown at safe altitudes from open locations to continuously monitor the crowd movement and use the intelligence to control the starting and stopping of gate movements. This ensures that a safe number of people are allowed in the mela and congestion is avoided.

“This year, we have deployed high resolution compact thermal drones for undertaking rescue and safety missions that can be flown from boats,” said a WEBEL official.

In view of the Covid pandemic, drones are being used to check social distancing along with monitoring the crowd movement and behaviour. The live stream from the drones will also be broadcasted by the administration for devotees who could not be present in the event due to Covid via their social media channels and handles.

This will not only make them feel part of the event but also showcase the beauty and glory of the event for the new devotees and thereby encourage them to travel in future.

According to a WEBEL official, drones have been fitted with HD cameras for recording the live footage as well as streaming the same to the control room in real time. The footage is used to control the movement of jetties, opening of gates and all such locations that are not under the CCTV network.

The control room has disaster management experts, decision makers and organizers who can analyse the footage and take crucial decisions. The live stream is established on a completely independent system with three layers of backup option to ensure uninterrupted feed even during power failure, communication loss or blackout.

A 24/7 operational medical screening with Rapid Antigen Testing is available at places where pilgrims arrive. There are facilities of medical screening and thermal checking at buffer zones, bus stands, railway stations in Lot 8 and Namkhana.

Masks and sanitisers are distributed at First Aid camps covering Outram Ghat, Sagar Island and Namkhana. Again a separate software (COVID Watch Portal) has been made for tracking the movement of Covid positive pilgrims. Twenty five ambulances with professionals have been kept aside to ensure safe transportation of Covid positive patients to the nearest safe homes or hospitals.