The authorities of the Mahalaxmi temple have been meeting police officials from Gamdevi police station and Deputy Commissioner of Police Zone II Nissar Tamboli regularly for the past few days, to finalise security and crowd management plans. They have unfurled a list of dos and don’ts for the nine-day Navratri festival that begins on Tuesday.
People standing in queues stretching all the way to Haji Ali outside Mahalaxmi temple will have to abide by certain rules: no steel thalis, preferably no mobile phones or large bags, and no hanging around the temple area after darshan.
“Instructions have been given to the flower vendors to replace steel/metal pooja thalis with less than 50 micron plastic carry bags. The temple authorities have also appealed to devotees not to carry any pooja thalis from home. This is done to avert any beeps as devotees pass the doorframe metal detectors, which will be put at entry levels. However, there is no restriction for garlands and coconuts,” explains SV Padhye, manager of Mahalaxmi temple.
The police had suggested that the temple construct a 150-metre skywalk for security purposes. However, there wasn’t enough time for the execution of the idea. Padhye reveals, “The estimated cost for construction of the skywalk would be around
Rs 17 lakh. The temple is a registered trust and as per norms, we would have to float tenders, scrutinise the same and then clear the tender specifications, which would have taken lot of time. Hence that idea was put on hold. The Guardian minister Jayant Patil agreed with this decision.”
The temple has hired 45 personnel from the Maharashtra State Security Corporation, who will assist over 1,200 volunteers from NGOs and spiritual organisations, other than the police, home guard and civil services personnels. The temple security will be covered in two layers, the inner and outer layer.
The police have instructed security personnel to frisk everyone, and even VIPs will be expected to go through the DFMDs.
This year, there will not be a separate male and female line. The entire family will be allowed to walk together till a certain point and the separation will happen only once the crowd reach the temple on top. This is to curtail the waiting hours for relatives and family members who usually get left behind due to the rush.
Combat vehicles will also be deployed in and around the temple. Apart from the existing 50 CCTV cameras, additional CCTV cameras will be installed on the entire stretch where devotees will form queues. To avoid a stampede, the crowd will be divided into groups of 50 and a gap of minimum 10 feet will be maintained between two groups.
Instructions have already been given by the police to food joints in and around the temple premises to refrain from keeping loaded cylinders in the stall.
The temple authorities expect a crowd of around 13 to 15 lakhs to visit the temple during the nine-day festival and are spending approximately Rs 45 lakhs for making the arrangements. The yearly collection of the temple is approximate Rs 8 crore.
In case of anything suspicious, inform the police on 100/103 or call 23805431/ 23804545