The official machinery is all geared up to ensure the smooth conduct of the 'Godavari antya pushkaralu', a 12-day festival commencing on Sunday. Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu will be participating in the event on the concluding day on August 11.
The Godavari is the only river to host 'adi' and 'antya' pushkarams. People from Odisha and West Bengal too are expected to participate in the event here. “The Rajamahendravaram Municipal Corporation is making arrangements for six lakh people per day,” says Vijayarama Raju, Municipal Commissioner and coordinator of the event.
Though there are 13 ghats from Kotilingala to Vijjeswram, the focus would be on the Kotilingala, Pushkara, TTD, Shraddananda, Umamaheswara, Saraswati, and Gowthami ghats, where crowd presence is expected to be more going by the track record.
The police have deployed 3,500 personnel to man all the ghats up to Kovvuru. In coordination with the MCR, the police have also put up 27 CC cameras exclusively to monitor crowd movement and sanitation. There will be strict vigil on the movement of anti-social elements too.
Urban SP B. Rajakumari has said that one DSP, two inspectors, four sub-inspectors, five head constables, and 10 constables have been deployed at four 'A' grade ghats. “We are taking no chances. All precautions are being taken to avoid untoward incidents,” she says.
Barricading work on the roads near the Pushkara ghat, where there was a stampede on the first day of the Maha Pushkarams in 2015, has been completed. The Municipal Corporation has arranged 152 boats, an equal number of swimmers, and a medical team each at seven important ghats.
Should there be any rain, the pilgrims will be provided temporary accommodation for a day or two in community halls and kalyana mandapams, says Mr. Raju. Emphasis will be on maintenance of sanitation. In all 1,800 workers will be on the job round the clock, he adds.
Cultural shows are being planned in Anam Kala Kendram during evenings. This apart, old Telugu movies will be screened at the Kotilingala ghat. The historic rail-cum-road bridge will be tastefully illuminated during the festival period.